Cuba says US must try Posada if he's not extradited
Campaign News | Thursday, 26 May 2005
Full text of Fidel's speech reproduced below
CARACAS, Venezuela May 26 - The United States would be obliged under international law to try Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles on terrorism charges if it fails to extradite him to Venezuela to face trial for a bomb attack 30 years ago, a senior Cuban official said on Wednesday.
Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon repeated Havana's support for Venezuela's demand that Washington hand over Posada, a militant foe of Fidel Castro, to be tried for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people.
Alarcon said without extradition Washington would be forced to put Posada, 77, on trial because it is a signatory to the Montreal Convention on international airline liability.
"Extradite him to Venezuela, or if they don't want to extradite him, then no excuses, they will have to try him themselves, but as if the victims were Americans and the aircraft American," Alarcon told reporters in Caracas.
"Judge him and punish him with the same severity they impose on people with Arab names or who are Muslims. Imagine we are talking about Luis bin Posada or Osama Posada Carriles," he said, referring to Osama bin Laden.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, a political ally of Castro and a critic of U.S. policies, this week warned he may reconsider his country's ties with the United States if Washington fails to send Posada to Caracas.
Posada was arrested on immigration charges for illegally entering the United States after he crossed from Mexico seeking asylum. He denies any involvement in bombing the Cuban aircraft after it took off from Barbados.
The Posada case presents Washington with a challenge over how to reconcile its support for the influential Cuban exile community opposed to Castro and its tough approach to terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Cuba rejects suggestions that it will seek to have Posada, a former CIA collaborator and staunch anti-communist, sent to Havana from Venezuela if he is extradited.
"There can't be impunity or no trial for destroying an aircraft in mid-flight, it's as simple as that," Alarcon said.
"I don't want to have the nightmare of imagining those who are going to try him will be precisely those who protected him for 30 years. I am not suggesting he be tried in the US."
Fidel Castro: Miami Right-Wing Torpedoed US/Cuba Anti-Terrorism Accords to Arrest Cuban Five
Havana, May 20: More than 200,000 Cubans gathered before the US Interests Section here in Havana on Friday night to hear Fidel Castro reveal how the right-wing in Miami torpedoed a possible anti-terrorism accord between Havana and Washington.
On April 12 1997, read the Cuban leader, a bomb exploded in a Havana disco - it was the first of a series of bombs planted across the city in tourist installations in a campaign masterminded by international terrorist Luís Posada Carriles and financed in the main by the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami. Posada Carriles was recently arrested by US authorities after being forced by a Cuba-led campaign to acknowledge his illegal presence on US soil. He is also wanted in Cuba and Venezuela for planning the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976.
On October 1, 1997, continued Fidel Castro, a call was made by the US Interests Section to the Cuban Foreign Ministry warning it of intelligence received that a bomb may explode that day in the capital. On May 7, 1998 the US Interests Section once again warned Havana that a group of Cuban exiles were planning a bombing at an unknown location on the island. US intelligence was accurate, as two people were soon afterwards arrested by Cuban authorities in possession of explosives.
Following this help from the US, Cuba expressed its desire to exchange information at every opportunity with Washington to avoid further terrorist attacks. To this end the Cuban president wrote a note to then US President Bill Clinton describing plans to bomb airliners operating between both their countries that Cuban intelligence had discovered. For confidentiality, Fidel Castro gave the note to the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez to deliver personally to Bill Clinton. The note was written in the form of a synthesis of a conversation between the writer and the Cuban leader to relieve the US president of any need to give a reply.
On May 1, 1998, Garcia Marquez was unable to meet with Bill Clinton as planned and was received instead by Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor. At that initial meeting Garcia Marquez chose not to hand over the message from Fidel Castro preferring to wait to see if he could meet with Clinton himself.
After a number of days of attempting to meet with Clinton who was not in Washington, Garcia Marquez eventually handed over the message to Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty at the White House. McLarty was accompanied by Richard Clarke, head of counter-terrorism in the National Security Council, and James Dobbins, head of the State Department Cuba Desk.
After reading the note, McLarty commented that both nations had common enemies. He then passed it over to Dobbins. Garcia Marquez then suggested the FBI contact the Cuban authorities and agree to a strategy to fight such terrorism. This cooperation between both countries could lead to improved relations on other levels he felt. At no time did the US officials broach the usual conditions that Washington normally sought to impose on Cuba. On the contrary, added the Colombian writer, they looked forward to an agreement between both nations in the fight against terrorism.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez said the meeting lasted 50 minutes and the US officials expressed their gratitude for the warnings enclosed in the message from Fidel Castro. The writer felt the meeting had been very successful and left convinced the message would reach the hands of the US president.
Subsequently, Michael Kozak, the head of the US Interests Section in Havana, wrote to the Foreign Ministry and to Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban Parliament, about the attacks on Cuban tourism. He said the US government was disposed to analyze any information that Cuba sought to provide to the US to evaluate and to act upon to prevent further such bombings. The US government is concerned about these terrorist acts and is ready to help Cuba fight international terrorism, he said. The US government asks Cuba to share information to help it carry out this fight.
Michael Kozak contacted Ricardo Alarcón about the arrival of an FBI team in Cuba to investigate the terrorism emanating from groups in the US. An agreement was reached that the FBI team could go to Havana as of July 15th to give Cuba time to prepare information and material. Alarcón was specific in insisting to Kozak that Cuba didn't seek to just warn the airlines of the bombing plans, but wanted to take other measures. Nobody can guarantee discretion, indicated Alarcón, and any breach of security could damage an investigation and cause panic which would damage the Cuban tourism industry and thus the economy, which was precisely what the terrorist groups sought to do.
Fidel Castro said that Cuba at that time had no reason to believe that the exchange with the United States was anything but serious and legitimate.
When the FBI team arrived in Cuba on July 16, 1998 it was provided with data on where Luís Posada Carriles could be found; information on eight Cuban-American terrorists detained in Cuba; 14 recorded conversations of Luís Posada Carriles planning acts against Cuba; the license plates of cars used by terrorists such as Posada Carriles in El Salvador and elsewhere in the region; 60 files on anti-Cuba terrorists including their whereabouts - most of whom were to be found in Miami; three different types of explosive devices discovered by Cuban authorities; and five video cassettes of the Guatemalans who had been found guilty of some of the hotel bombings in 1997.
A month went by, said Fidel Castro, then another month, and no answer. Almost three months went by without the promised response from the US. Then, on September 12, 1998 five Cubans who had provided much of the information given to the FBI were arrested in Miami. One of them had been given the mission of following the activities of Orlando Bosch - Posada Carriles' co-conspirator in the bombing of the Cuban airliner in 1976.
The head of the FBI in Miami, Hector Pesquera, was the person principally responsible for the rupture of these new agreements between Cuba and the United States, declared the Cuban president. He had close friendships with members of the Cuban-American right wing in Miami. Pressured by the extreme right-wing Cuban-American community in Miami, the FBI determined to torpedo the new exchange on anti-terrorism between Havana and Washington.
On October 19, 1998, Fidel Castro said that he told Lucia Newman of CNN in Oporto, Portugal, that Cuba had always been ready to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. He told her that with the arrest of the five Cubans (known now as the Cuban Five who were treated as spies and who received brutally long sentences for protecting Cuba against terrorism) Washington ran the risk of allowing extremists such as those in Miami to continue to function on US soil. We have attempted to communicate the methods used by these terrorists against our nation, the Cuban leader told CNN, we consider this to be very important as the US is very vulnerable to terrorist attack.
The Cuban leader then ended by noting that no fewer than 14 of the 19 terrorists who participated in the September 11 attacks were located in the area for which Hector Pesquera was responsible in Florida. If our offer of cooperation had been followed, ended Fidel Castro, the terrorist plans of September 11 might have been discovered by our combined intelligence services.
Prensa Latina, Havana
Full Text of Fidel Castro's May 20th Address
Havana, May 20 (Prensa Latina)
Special address by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba at the Anti-imperialist Square. May 20,2005.
My fellow countrymen:
What I will immediately read to you has been elaborated on the basis of numerous documents from our archives. I have had very little time but many comrades have cooperated, as I promised yesterday to have this ready for today a 6:00 pm. I have chosen to give it the title of:
"A DIFFERENT BEHAVIOR"
April 12, 1997: A bomb explodes in the "Aché" discotheque at the Melia Cohiba hotel. It is the first of a series of terrorist attacks on hotels carried out by the network created in Central America by Luis Posada Carriles and financed by the Cuban American National Foundation.
April 30, 1997: Special Forces from the Ministry of the Interior deactivate an explosive charge discovered on the 15th floor of the Melia Cohiba hotel.
July 12, 1997: Explosions occur almost simultaneously in the Capri and Nacional Hotels. Four people are wounded.
August 4, 1997: Terrorist bomb goes off in the Melia Cohiba hotel.
August 11, 1997: The board of directors of the Cuban American National Foundation publishes a self-satisfied, cynical message describing the bombs in the hotels as, quote "incidents of internal rebellion which have been taking place in Cuba over the last few weeks" and that "the Cuban American National Foundation  supports these without hesitation or reservations".
September 4, 1997: Explosions in the Copacabana, Chateau and Tritón Hotels, and in La Bodeguita del Medio. Fabio di Celmo, a young Italian tourist is killed in the first of these.
Following the terrorist acts perpetrated from October 17, 1992 and April 30, 1997, a list is drawn up of 13 serious terrorist acts against tourist facilities, most of these financed by the Cuban American National Foundation. A report with this information is drafted and delivered to the president of the United States by an outstanding political personality who made a private visit to Cuba at the beginning of May. Numerous notes had previously been sent to the US government through the US Interests Section in Havana (USINT).
October 1, 1997: At 11:00 pm there is a phone call from Kozak, head of the USINT to MINREX to pass on information from a third country which indicated that there could be another bomb attack on a tourist facility in or around Havana within the next 24 hours, on October 1 0r 2. He says he couldn"t confirm this information but that he wants us to know about it.
October 2, 1997: The head of USINT is summoned to MINREX in the morning to get more details about the previous day"s information and to thank him officially for having passed it on.
October 5, 1997: Kozak is summoned by MINREX so the Cuban side can read and then give him a copy of the following message:
"Regarding the information about a possible bomb attack on a tourist facility in Havana on October 1 or 2, we would like to say that although there was no explosion, it has been confirmed that this information was strictly accurate and the attack"s characteristics were similar to earlier plans.
"Insomuch as this might be of interest and of use to US authorities, we wish to let them know that the source which provided them with this information has been shown to be truthful. We have acted with utmost discretion, as we were asked to do. We are very appreciative".
The head of USINT responds that the information given to him is useful; that they had obtained the information but that it was not possible to confirm it since it was a rumour; that now they can place more trust in the source; that he will travel to Washington the following Sunday and take this information with him, that he thinks it is positive; that if they obtain more from this source they will know what to do; that they have uncovered nothing more in the investigations conducted in the United States but that they are continuing with these in Central America, especially after an article published in the Miami Herald. He says that any information that Cuba has and that it can provide to the United States will be very useful. He ends by saying that "this was good".
March 7, 1997: At 12:45 pm, the USINT head asks to see someone at MINREX urgently to pass on some sensitive information. He says that he has information from a non-specified reliable source that a group of Cuban exile has plans to carry out a bomb attack in Cuba between March 7 and 8, that he doesn"t know where, time or specific target but that according to the source, the explosives are already in Cuba.
March 9, 1997: The minister of foreign affairs meets with the head of USINT and reads him the following note:
"Concerning the information given verbally last Saturday March 7 about plans for terrorist attacks organized by Cuba exiles, possibly to be executed on 7 or 8 of this month and that the explosives were already in Cuba, we wish to let you know the following:
"1. That it has once again been shown that the US authorities" sources of information on these activities are absolutely reliable.
"2. That last Wednesday afternoon, March 4 two people from abroad were arrested and they were relieved of the explosives and other material they intended to use to carry out four terrorist attacks similar to those which have occurred previously, organized in the same way with the same methods. They were promised a payment in cash of a certain amount of money for each bomb.
"3. The Cuban authorities are trying to gather as much additional information as possible.
"4. These criminal acts are extremely serious and affect not only Cuba and the United States but also other countries in the region. We have a duty to prevent such acts being executed with impunity. This would not be difficult if Cuba and the United states coordinated, through the appropriate bodies, the fight against such actions. This has been done in some cases of drug trafficking with complete seriousness and discretion.
"5. Thus far we have not released this information to the public until we have taken certain measures and completed our investigations, but it will not be possible to avoid giving this information to the public when the time is right.
"6. We offer our sincere thanks for the information you gave us".
Once the reading was over, Kozak"s initial reaction was to thank and congratulate the Cuban authorities for their efficiency. He added that if we had any more information or lead that they could follow to determine who was supporting or controlling these activities, it would be very useful if we could pass it on since the US government had already taken a firm decision to pursue and enforce the law regardless of who may be responsible for these acts. Kozak insisted that they still had no information about who was behind these acts, that there are several people with a record of such activities but that not all of them live, work or pass through Miami, or even through the United States; that some of them are in other countries, all of which made it more difficult to act against them; that the US government had it clear that these acts benefited no one. A USINT officer also present added that they had thought what Colonel Rabeiro said about having recordings of telephone conversations between the Salvadoran and someone in Central America was very interesting and that this information would be very useful since it would make it easier to locate those who were controlling these activities. They added that after the wars in Central America there were many people from the extreme right still around in those countries who were involved in criminal activities. They did appreciate the importance of being able to corroborate that their source was reliable and they understood the importance of working together in this area. At the end of the meeting, he insisted again that it was useful for us to share any information.
April 18, 1998: In view of the positive exchanges mentioned above and knowing that writer Gabriel García Márquez would be traveling to the United States soon where he would meeting with William Clinton, a reader and admirer of his books -as so many other people in the world- whom García Márquez had met before, I decided to send a message to the US president, which I personally drafted.
The message touched on seven subjects briefly and in synthesis. I shall limit myself in this report to that most directly related with the serious events taking place today, that is, the terrorist attacks against the Cuban people organized and financed from the United States. It was entitled:
SUMMARY OF ISSUES THAT GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ MAY CONFIDENTIALLY TRANSMIT TO PRESIDENT CLINTON.
Point 1 (literally)
"An important issue. Plans for terrorist actions against Cuba continue to be hatched and paid by the Cuban American National Foundation using Central American mercenaries. Two new attempts at setting up bombs in tourist resorts have been undertaken before, and after, the Pope"s visit. In the first case, those responsible failed, they were able to escape and return to Central America by plane leaving behind the technical means and explosives, which were then seized. In the second case, three mercenaries were arrested with explosives and other means. They are Guatemalans. They would have received 1500 USD for every bomb exploded.
"In both cases they were hired and supplied by agents of the ring organized by the Cuban American National Foundation. Now, they are plotting and taking steps to set up bombs in planes from Cuba or any other country airline carrying tourist to, or from, Cuba to Latin American countries. The method is similar: to hide a small device at a certain place inside the plane, a powerful explosive with a fuse controlled by a digital clock that can be programmed 99 hours in advance, then easily abandon the plane at foreseen destination; the explosion would take place either on the ground or while the plane is in flight to its next destination. Really devilish procedures: easy to handle mechanisms, components whose detection is practically impossible, a minimum training required for their use, almost absolute impunity. Extremely dangerous to airlines and to tourist facilities or of any other type. Tools suitable for a crime, very serious crimes. lf they were revealed and their possibilities exposed, they might become an epidemic as the hijacking of planes once became. Other Cuban extremist groups living in the United States are beginning to move in that direction.
"The American investigation and intelligence agencies are in possession of enough reliable information on the main people responsible. lf they really want to, they have the possibility of preventing in time this new modality of terrorism. It will be impossible to stop it if the United States doesn"t discharge its fundamental duty of fighting it. The responsibility to fight it can"t be left to Cuba alone since any other country of the world might also be a victim of such actions."
May 7, 1998: Gabo"s meeting at the White House.
GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ" REPORT ON THE MISSION REQUESTED TO CARRY A MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT CLINTON.
Exact copy without removing a single word.
At the end of March, when I had confirmed to Princeton University my literary workshop for April 25, I contacted Bill Richardson on the phone to ask him to arrange a private visit with President Clinton to discuss the Colombia situation. Richardson asked me to call him a week before my trip for the answer. A few days later I went to Havana, to get some data for a press report I"d write on the Pope"s visit, when talking with Fidel I mentioned the possibility of a meeting with President Clinton.
It was there that Fidel came up with the idea of sending a confidential message on a sinister terrorist plan, which Cuba had just discovered, that could affect not only both countries but many others as well. He decided himself that it should not be a personal letter to avoid putting Clinton in the predicament of giving an answer; he preferred a written summary of our conversation on the plot and on other subjects of mutual interest. In addition to the text, he suggested two unwritten questions that I could raise with Clinton if the circumstances were propitious.
That night I became aware that my trip to Washington had taken an unforeseen and significant turn, and that I could no longer see it as a simple personal visit. Thus, I not only confirmed to Richardson the date of my arrival but I also announced him, on the phone, that I was carrying an urgent message for President Clinton.
Out of respect for the agreed secrecy I didn"t mention on the phone who was sending it -although he must have guessed it-- nor did I let it transpire that a delayed delivery could be the cause of major catastrophes and the death of innocent people. His answer did not reach me during my week in Princeton, and that made me think that the White House was also considering the fact that the motive for my first request had changed. I even thought that the interview would not be granted.
As soon as I arrived in Washington on Friday May 1, a Richardson staff told me on the phone that the President could not receive me because he would be in California until Wednesday 6, and I had plans to travel to Mexico one day before that date, but they were suggesting that I meet with the President"s director of the National Security Council, Sam Berger, who could receive my message on behalf of the President.
My malignant suspicion was that they were interposing conditions so that the message would get to the special services and not to the President himself. Berger had been present during my meeting with Clinton in the White House Oval Office, on September 1997, and his few words on the Cuba situation did not run contrary to those of the President, although I can"t say he shared all his views without reservations. Therefore, I did not feel I was authorized to accept of my own volition the alternative of being received by Berger and not by the President, most of all because it was a very sensitive message, and it was not mine. My personal opinion was that it could only be delivered to Clinton personally.
The only thing I thought of at the moment was to inform Richardson"s office that if the change of interlocutor was only due to the President"s absence, I could stay longer in Washington and wait for his return. The reply was that they would let him know. Some time later I found in the hotel a telephone note from ambassador James Dobbins, director of Interamerican affairs at the NSC, but I chose not to acknowledge receipt while my proposal to wait for the president"s return was being processed.
I was not in a hurry. I had written more than 20 useful pages of my memoirs in the idyllic Princeton premises, and the pace had not diminished in my impersonal room at the Washington hotel where I spent up to 10 hours a day writing. However, even if I refused to admit it, the true reason for my confinement was the custody of the message lying in the safety box.
At the Mexican airport I had lost a coat as I watched for my personal computer, the suitcase where I carried my drafts and diskettes of the book I was working on and the message"s original without copies. Just the idea that I could loose it sent shivers down my spine, not so much for the loss itself as for the fact that it would have been easy to identify its source and destination.
Thus, I devoted myself to its custody while I continued to write, to eat my meals and to receive my visits in the hotel room whose safety box I was far from trusting, as it had no combination lock but a key that seemed to have been bought at a convenient store around the corner. I always carried it in my pocket, and after every inevitable occasion in which I left my room, I checked that the paper was still in its place and in the sealed envelope. I had read it so many times that I had practically learned it by heart, just to feel reassured in case I had to explain any of the issues at delivery time.
I always took it for granted that my telephone conversations in those days --as well as those of my interlocutors-- were tapped. However, I relaxed, as I was conscious of being a part of an irreproachable mission, one that was good for both Cuba and the United States. My other serious problem was that I could not discuss my doubts with anyone without violating secrecy.
The Cuban diplomatic representative in Washington, Fernando Remirez, offered to be fully at my service to keep the channel with Havana opened, but confidential communications are so slow and hazardous from Washington --especially in such a sensitive case-- that ours could only be solved with a special envoy. The response was a gentle request to wait in Washington for as long as necessary to fulfill my mission, just as I had resolved; at the same time I was humbly asked to be most careful to avoid offending Sam Berger for not accepting him as an interlocutor. The funny end of the message left no doubt about the author, even without a signature: "We wish you can write a lot".
As chance would have it, former president Cesar Gaviria had fortunately arranged a private dinner for Monday night with Thomas "Mack" McLarty who had just resigned from his position as President Clinton"s advisor for Latin America, although he still was his oldest and closest friend. We had met the previous year, and Gaviria"s family had since then planned the dinner with a double purpose: to discuss with McLarty the cryptic Colombian situation and to please his wife"s wishes to clarify with me some points about my books.
The occasion seemed providential. Gaviria is a great friend and a smart councilor, a resourceful person as well informed on the situation of Latin America as anyone can be, and an alert and understanding observer of the Cuban reality. I arrived at his place an hour before the agreed time, and having no time for consultations I took the liberty of disclosing to him the essence of my mission so that he could give me some ideas.
Gaviria gave me the right dimension of the problem and brought some order into the puzzle. He showed me that the precautions taken by Clinton"s advisors were only normal, given the political and security risks involved for a US President in personally receiving such sensitive information through an irregular channel. He didn"t have to explain it for I immediately remembered a case in point: in our dinner at Martha"s Vineyard, during the massive exodus of 1994, President Clinton authorized me to raise this and other hot Cuba issues, but he first warned me that he could not say a word. I will never forget how intensely he listened to me, and the great efforts he had to make not to reply to some highly charged subjects.
Gaviria also alerted me to the fact that Berger is a proficient and serious official one should be very mindful of when relating to the president. He also showed me that the mere fact of assigning him to meet with me was a very special high-level deference, since private requests like mine would usually go for years to peripheral offices of the White House, or be transferred to junior officers in the CIA or the State Department.
Anyway, Gaviria seemed pretty sure that the text handed to Berger would make it to the President"s hands, and that was essential. Finally, just as I had dreamed, he announced me that at the end of the dinner he would leave me alone with McLarty so that he would open a direct line for me to the President.
The evening was pleasurable and fruitful; it was just the Gaviria family and us. McLarty, like Clinton, is a man from the South and both are friendly and easygoing like the Caribbean people. At dinner ice was broken early, foremost about the United States policy towards Latin America, particularly concerning narcotics trafficking and the peace processes. Mark was so well informed that he knew even the smallest details of my interview with President Clinton last September, when we discussed in depth the shooting down of the planes in Cuba and where the idea was raised that the Pope could act as a United States mediator during his trip to Cuba.
McLarty"s general position on relations with Colombia -for which he seems willing to work-- is that US policies are in need of radical changes. He said that the government was willing to make contact with any president elected in order to really work toward peace. But neither him nor the other officials I spoke with later have any clear thought about what those changes might be. The dialogue was so candid and fluent that when Gaviria and his family left us alone in the dinning room, McLarty and I were like two old friends.
Unhesitatingly, I disclosed the content of the message for his President and he did not conceal his apprehension over the terrorist plan, even if unaware of the atrocious details. He had not been informed of my request to see the President but he promised to speak to him as soon as he came back from California. Encouraged by the easiness of the dialogue I dared to suggest that he accompanied me to the interview with the President, and I wished there would be no other officials, so that we could talk without reservations. The only question he asked me about that --and I never knew why-- was if Richardson was aware of the content of the message, and I said no. Then he ended the conversation with the promise that he would speak to the president.
Early on Tuesday morning I reported to Havana through the usual channel about the main topics discussed over dinner, and I took the liberty of asking a timely question: if at the end the President decided not to receive me, and if he gave the task to either McLarty or to Berger, whi