Statement of Venezuelan Ambassador to US on Posada Carriles' case

Campaign News | Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Posada looks likely to get off the hook



September 28, 2005


1. Luis Posada Carriles is the Osama Bin Laden of Latin America. A terrorist. A man who is responsible for the blowing up of a civilian airplane with 73 passengers aboard. Recruited by the CIA in 1962, his is a curriculum of terror that includes murder, attempted murder, torture and sabotage over four decades.

2. Posada reportedly entered the United States in March of 2005. Rather than immediately detain him, the Department of Homeland Security allowed him to freely walk the streets of Miami and paint canvases in a luxury apartment in Miami for weeks.

3. While Posada was still free in Miami (on May 13, 2005), Venezuela formally requested that the United States detain him for the purpose of extraditing him to Venezuela to stand trial for 73 counts of murder involving the downing of a passenger airplane in 1976. The United States has yet to place an extradition detainer on him.

4. Four days later, Posada called a bizarre press conference in Miami and bragged that the DHS was not looking for him. Having no other option in the face of the embarrassing declarations made by Posada, DHS detained him after the press conference and gingerly escorted him in a golf cart as if he were a retiree who needed help to get around the golf course. Television images show that he was not even handcuffed by DHS agents. Ask anyone who has been arrested with DHS agents if Posada?s treatment at all resembles their own.

5. In a statement issued a few hours after his detention in South Florida on May 17, the Immigration, Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security said that ICE would not deport Posada to Cuba or (in a veiled reference to Venezuela) to "a country acting on behalf of Cuba."

6. Incredibly, ICE announced the United States government's intentions concerning this terrorist before the extradition or the immigration cases had even begun.

7. On June 10, 2005 Venezuela renewed its request for the preventive detention of Posada for the purpose of extradition. Rather than placing an extradition detainer on him, the DOJ tabled the request and has yet to act on it.

8. On June 15, 2005 Venezuela formally requested the extradition of Posada Carriles, with voluminous documentary evidence in support of the request. Although the Department of State referred the case to lawyers at the Department of Justice to prosecute the extradition request more than three months ago, DOJ lawyers have yet to file it with the federal district court.

9. Rather than to respect the extradition treaties it has signed over the years, the United States chose to treat Posada Carriles?case as a mere immigration matter and charged him only with illegal entry into the country.

10. Throughout the life of the immigration case before Judge Abbott, DHS was more concerned with the appearance of prosecution rather than with prosecution itself. DHS failed to cross-examine Posada?s only witness, Joaquín Chaffardet, or to point out to the Judge that Chaffardet is a biased witnessed who has been Posada?s close associate for almost forty years. Instead Chaffardet was allowed to testify as if he were an objective expert on human rights condition in Venezuela.

11. DHS called no witnesses submitted no evidence and virtually winked at defense counsel and at the Judge about the U.S. government's preference that Posada be granted Convention Against Torture relief.

12. There isn't a shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela. On the contrary, as our Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez stated last week, Venezuela is prepared to offer him a house made of gold and feed him caviar every day if he is extradited to stand trial in Venezuela.

13. Indeed, if we examine our respective records on torture, a prisoner is more likely to be tortured in the custody of the U.S. government than in the custody of Venezuelan officials.

14. There is a cynical double standard at work here fighting an " a la carte" war on terror. On the one hand, the United States presents itself to the world as the leader of a global war against terrorism, invades countries it accuses of terrorism and restricts the civil rights of Americans in order to combat terrorism. On the other hand, when it comes to its own terrorist whom it has recruited and coddled for years the United States refuses to allow that he is tried for some of the heinous crimes he has committed.

15. The only way out of this double standard is for the United States to immediately proceed with the extradition case. The Government must present our extradition request to the appropriate federal judge with no further delay. The victims of Posada's crime have waited long enough.

Venezuela slams 'double standard' of Posada hearing

Caracas, Venezuela, September 27, 2005-Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban-Venezuelan who is wanted for terrorism in Venezuela, will probably neither be extradited nor deported to Venezuela. The Venezuelan embassy in the U.S. reacted strongly to this turn of events, saying, “The Posada case reveals the Bush Administration’s double standard in its so-called war on terrorism.”

The hearings on whether Posada should be deported for violating U.S. immigration law concluded yesterday and the judge, William L. Abbott, is expected to make a final decision later this week. Posada’s attorney, Matthew Archambeault, told the press, “We are 99% certain that the judge is inclined to postpone the deportation.”

After hearing arguments, Judge Abbott said yesterday that there are sufficient grounds for not extraditing Posada under the provisions of the Convention Against Torture. According to Posada’s lawyers, Posada would face torture and possible extradition to Cuba if he were deported to Venezuela. The Convention Against Torture (CAT) states that individuals in U.S. custody may not be deported to countries where they could be subjected to torture. The Venezuelan government, however, has repeatedly denied that Posada would be extradited to Cuba or would face torture in Venezuela.

Posada is wanted in Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline that was flying from Venezuela to Cuba. All 73 passengers died in the crash. Posada denies that he was involved in the bombing, but recently declassified CIA documents reveal that Posada bragged to others about having planned the bombing. Posada is a notorious anti-Castro militant, who has been convicted of planning the assassination of Fidel Castro in Panama in 2000 and of placing bombs in Cuban tourist resorts in the 1990’s.

The Venezuelan embassy’s press release states the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which would normally be in charge of pursuing international terrorists, focused solely on Posada’s immigration matter. “Rather proceeding with the extradition of this self-confessed terrorist to stand trial for murder in Caracas, the U.S. Government has instead turned the case into a minor immigration matter in El Paso,” states the embassy’s press release.

The statement goes on to say that the U.S. government is abusing the Convention Against Torture to protect an internationally wanted terrorist. “There is no evidence that the government of Venezuela would torture Posada. To grant CAT relief to Posada Carriles is to cynically twist an international treaty meant to protect innocent victims of torture into an instrument with which to shelter a terrorist.”

Venezuela’s embassy in the U.S. argues that the U.S. government contradicts itself because in a recent case involving two Venezuelan officers wanted for their participation in the 2002 coup attempt the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued against the application of the CAT. “In that case DHS argued against Torture Convention relief, because of the absence of evidence that Venezuela tortures its prisoners. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that the United States engages in the systematic torture of its own prisoners at the Guantanamo Naval Base, the Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities,” said the embassy.

According to the embassy, there are three separate international treaties that compel the U.S. to extradite Luis Posada Carriles: “1. The Extradition Treaty between the United States and Venezuela signed on January 19, 1922, 2. The International Convention on Civil Aviation signed in Montreal on September 23, 1971, and 3. the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings signed on December 15, 1997.”

U.S. Government charade will result in denial of Posada extradition

El Paso, Texas: Mon Sep 26

By Bill weaver of Narcosphere News

The hearing to determine whether or not Luis Posada Carriles will be extradited to Venezuela took an expected, but still dramatic, turn today.

Posada, a terrorist trained and supported by the United States during the Cold War era to harass and kill Leftists in Central and South America, fled to Miami after release from a Panamanian prison in November, 2004. Posada’s personal and professional goal has always been the assassination of President Fidel Castro, and his Panamanian conviction is connected to the possession of 40 pounds of plastic explosives in an attempt on Castro’s life during a state visit to Panama in 2000.

Now 77 years of age, and showing signs of ill health, Posada is in United States custody for entering the country illegally. In an August 30th hearing, Posada produced Joaquín Fernando Chaffardet Ramos as a witness to claim that if returned to Venezuela, Posada would be subjected to torture.

The hearing today was scheduled to provide the U.S. Government with an opportunity to rebut the evidence of Chaffardet and to show that Posada would most likely not be subjected to torture by the government of President Hugo Chávez. But the United States refused to put on rebuttal evidence, handing Posada exactly what he wanted; a life in the United States.

Counsel for the United States, Gina Garrett-Jackson, stated at the beginning of the hearing that she would put on no evidence with respect to the possibility or probability of torture if Posada were returned to Venezuela. In determining Posada’s extraditability, the court used a two-step process. The first step is to determine whether or not Posada is subject to withholding of removal under statute. Withholding of removal is similar to asylum, but it is more tenuous than asylum and people under this status may not leave the United States and return, nor apply for permanent legal residence.

Posada is not eligible for withholding, since he was convicted of a serious nonpolitical crime in a foreign jurisdiction, and because of his terrorist activities over four decades on behalf of the United States and other countries. Posada’s attorney, Matthew Archambeault, waived Posada’s claim under this step and argued that therefore all of the evidence submitted concerning Posada’s terrorist activities is irrelevant and should not be admitted into the record.

In a rare moment of vigorous prosecutorial spirit in the case, Garrett-Jackson argued that all of the evidence should come in. Judge William Abbott said that he would address the matter in a written decision, but that he is inclined to agree with Posada’s position. The judge may conclude that if the withholding argument is waived, then there is no need to place cumulative or irrelevant evidence in the record concerning a matter not in issue. But that would mean that all the horror Posada is and was would be swept from the record and he would not even be held accountable on paper for his legacy of murder and violence.

The next step, under the Convention Against Torture, is to determine if a person’s extradition must be deferred because the country seeking extradition is likely to torture the returned subject. Since Posada put on at least some evidence that he may be subjected to torture if extradited to Venezuela, and the United States put on no evidence whatsoever to the contrary, there is virtually no doubt that Posada will win on this point.

Extradition of Posada will be indefinitely deferred and the acquiescence on this point by the U.S. Government made the entire hearing a sham. Bush saved Posada from extradition, his brother Jeb from the wrath of Cuban exiles, the U.S. Government from major potential embarrassment, and took advantage of an opportunity to malign Hugo Chávez at the same time. But what of the "war on terror"? On this day, in this part of West Texas, for this terrorist, the war was suspended.

It is at this point that Garrett-Jackson read a curious statement on behalf of the United States. In that statement Garrett-Jackson said the "United States continues to have concerns about Venezuela and human rights abuses," and that while the U.S. Government had "no specific information that Posada himself would be tortured," it believed that he would indeed be tortured if returned to Venezuela. Garrett-Jackson then noted that while the Venezuelan constitution prohibits the extradition of citizens, it is probable that Posada would be subjected to torture by Cubans invited in by the Chávez government. She claimed that under the Venezuela-Cuba Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, Chávez could invite Cubans to Venezuela to interrogate, and torture, Mr. Posada.

Just who wrote the statement is a mystery, though it surely was vetted, if not drafted, by people high up in the Bush Administration. The United States was clearly eager to use the forum to make disparaging remarks about Venezuela and President Hugo Chávez and the relationship between the Chávez government and Cuba. I asked Archambeault if he knew who had authored the statement, and he said that throughout the entire affair he never knew who U.S. Government counsel answered to. He said that Garrett-Jackson and her team would simply say that they had to talk with people "upstairs" whenever an impasse arose between the two sides. He joked at one point that it seemed as if even government counsel did not know who they were taking orders from. And this may be the case, since it seems perfectly plausible that the White House directed the courses of action in this case through intermediaries in the Department of State and the Department of Justice.

Archambeault and Posada were "quite pleased" with the events of the day, and Archambeault said that he will move for Posada’s release after Judge Abbott’s final decision is entered. Since the U.S. put on no evidence rebutting Chaffardet, there would seem to be little grounds for an appeal. The United States, of course, has no desire to appeal the decision in the case, and Judge Abbott will find that Posada’s extradition must be deferred indefinitely.

The real struggle in the case seems to be over Posada’s potential release from prison. Garrett-Jackson wanted as much evidence as possible of Posada’s past deeds in the record in order to apparently establish him as a threat to the national security of the United States and as a terrorist. But since Archambeault waived the issue with respect to withholding, the judge may require that the U.S. Government’s evidence be ignored. In that case, the way may be clear for Posada’s release. Without a finding that Posada is a terrorist or a threat to national security, it will make it much easier for him to win his freedom.

Venezuelan press release on Posada Carriles case




September 26, 2005

Luis Posada Carriles? immigration case will be heard today at 8:30 AM in El Paso, Texas before Immigration Judge William Abbott. Posada Carriles is a fugitive from justice in Venezuela, where he is wanted for 73 counts of first degree murder involving the downing of a passenger plane on October 6, 1976.

Venezuela formally asked the U.S. Department of State for his extradition on June 15, 2005. Rather proceeding with the extradition of this self-confessed terrorist to stand trial for murder in Caracas, the U.S. Government has instead turned the case into a minor immigration matter in El Paso.

The Posada case reveals the Bush Administration’s double standard in its so-called war on terrorism. Immigration Judges are employees of the Department of Justice who are not authorized to determine whether to extradite or to determine the guilt or innocence of international criminals. Only federal judges may do that.

Posada is not eligible to request asylum in the United States, because he is an aggravated felon. He has therefore withdrawn his asylum application. He is instead applying for relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The legal standard to gain CAT relief is that it is “more likely than not” that he would be tortured by the government of Venezuela if returned. Prosecution is neither persecution nor torture. There is no evidence that the government of Venezuela would torture Posada. To grant CAT relief to Posada Carriles is to twist an international treaty meant to protect innocent victims of torture into an instrument with which shelter a terrorist.

Three separate international treaties obligate the U.S. to extradite Luis Posada Carriles: 1. The Extradition Treaty between the United States and Venezuela signed on January 19, 1922, 2. The International Convention on Civil Aviation signed in Montreal on September 23, 1971, and 3. the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings signed on December 15, 1997.

It is well settled law in the United States that the extradition process has priority over any immigration matters. Venezuela once again calls on the United States government to follow the law and extradite Posada Carriles to stand trial for 73 counts of first degree murder in Caracas.

Terrorism in the belly of the beast!

Father Geoff Bottoms writes on the Miami Five case

(Article for the Morning Star from GEOFF BOTTOMS, Co-ordinator of the CSC Miami Five Working Group reposduce din Granma International:

WAITING patiently in their cells at penitentiaries throughout the United States the Miami Five receive a mountain of mail each day from all over the world yet still there is no word from Atlanta, Georgia on the results of their appeal hearing on 10th March 2004. Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez are five Cuban political prisoners who are serving sentences ranging between fifteen years and two life terms for defending their country against terrorism.

They were convicted on charges ranging from being agents of a foreign power without disclosure to conspiracy to commit espionage and murder following a flawed trial in Miami where they could not expect to receive a fair hearing on account of the enormous political influence wielded by the anti-Castro Cuban-American community.

This injustice is compounded by the fact that the intelligence on right-wing terrorist groups in Miami responsible for organising forty years of attacks against the Cuban people was shared with the FBI under a secret agreement between Cuba and the Clinton administration who arrested the Five on 12th September 1998 instead of rounding up the real criminals. Under pressure from the same Miami Mafia Hector Pesquera, the local FBI chief, pulled the plug on the agreement while 14 of the 19 terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks were plotting in Miami and could have been unearthed.

Ironically on April 12 this year, the CIA-sponsored and wanted terrorist Luis Posada Carriles appealed for political asylum in the United States through his attorneys in Miami. After living openly in Miami for over a month, the Bush government, bowing to intensifying public and international pressure, detained and charged Posada with illegally entering the United States although his hearing has been deferred to August 29th in an attempt to play for time.

Venezuela has formally requested the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, to face trial for the 1976 bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 in which 73 people were killed. The Bush administration has so far refused to honour the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Venezuela.

Yet President George W. Bush on November 21 2001 stated, "America has a message for the nations of the world: If you harbour terrorists, you are terrorists. If you train or arm a terrorist, you are a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist, and you will be held accountable". However, so far, the British Government, together with other EU nations, has remained conspicuously silent on the issue of Posada's extradition colluding with the US government’s apparent double standards in its treatment of terrorist suspects. For them it is a bilateral issue with no bearing on the coalition’s illegal imperialist wars waged in the name of fighting terrorism. A glaring example of hypocrisy made even more startling in the light of the recent terrorist attacks on London’s transport system claiming yet more innocent lives.

Yet on May 27, 2005, the Working Group on Arbitration Detentions of the UN Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution of its investigation into the case of the Cuban Five in the U.S. In its declaration, the Working Group concluded that the imprisonment and treatment of the Five is arbitrary in contravention of Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States of America is a party. It made recommendations to the U.S. government to rectify the situation. According to the U.N. website: ``The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is the only nontreaty-based mechanism whose mandate expressly provides for consideration of individual complaints." Established in 1991, the panel includes five members, currently from Algeria, Spain, Iran, Hungary and Paraguay.

After evaluating arguments put by both the families of the Miami Five and the US government the Group found:

- That "the trial did not take place in a climate of objectivity and impartiality which is required" and that "the Government [of the United States] has not denied that the climate of bias and prejudice against the accused in Miami persisted and helped to present the accused as guilty from the beginning." "It was not contested by the Government [of the United States] that one year later it admitted that Miami was an unsuitable place for a trial where it proved almost impossible to select an impartial jury in a case linked with Cuba."

- That "The Government [of the United States] has not contested the fact that defence lawyers had very limited access to evidence because of the classification of the case by the Government as one of national security", which "undermined the equal balance between the prosecution and the defence and negatively affected the ability [of the defence] to present counter evidence".

- That the fact that the accused "were kept in solitary confinement for 17 months" determined that "communication with their attorneys, and access to evidence and thus, possibilities to an adequate defence were weakened".

- That these "three elements, combined together, are of such gravity that they confer the deprivation of liberty of these five persons an arbitrary character."

According to an article published by The Miami Herald on July 20, 2005, the State Department said it would not accept this "ridiculous and perplexing decision" made by the UN Working Group. A senior official told The Herald the ruling was a "politically motivated" manoeuvre orchestrated by the Cuban government and added that other efforts within the U.N. to take up the case had been rejected. A definitive U.S. response to the panel's ruling is under way but no-one is holding their breath even though the findings of the Group reflect the arguments of the defence on appeal.

Proving their innocence once again the Miami Five remain confident as they contemplate the day when their freedom will be celebrated in Cuba together with all those who have campaigned for their release. While waiting for the result of the appeal hearing they are both optimistic and realistic about the ultimate victory believing that reason, truth and justice are on their side. Meanwhile terrorism continues to lurk in the belly of the beast!

Copies of a petition launched by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign demanding the freedom of the Miami Five and visiting rights for their families are available from CSC, c/o The Red Rose, 129 Seven Sisters Road, London N7 7QG. Tel: 020 7263 6452.

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