If you go to the 6:50 minute mark in the video above, you will see the exchange translated below between CNN’s Fernando del Rincon and Luis Posada Carriles, a man the Bush Administration called an “admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks.”
Posada’s speech is impaired due to a gunshot injury.
The reporter’s question has to do with the 1997 terrorist bombings of Havana hotels that Posada, in his 1998 interviews with the New York Times, said were intended to “create a big scandal so that the tourists don’t come anymore,” and also because, “We don’t want any more foreign investment.”
CNN: Did you participate or not in the bombings that killed the Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo in Havana in Cuba? Did you not participate…
Posada: With the persons that put the bombs, with the results of the bombs… [unintelligible]
CNN: You did not participate?
Posada: I did not participate.
CNN: Physically no, did you have anything to do with it at the intellectual level?
Posada: I am not going to respond because that, that could incriminate me, I am not going to talk about that subject because it was discussed a lot in the trial…
This is a little reminiscent of the spring of 2005, when Posada had arrived in the United States and his terrorism background made him a political hot potato for the Bush Administration, which equated harboring terrorists with terrorism itself. U.S. officials were not acknowledging Posada’s presence, seemingly hinting that if he would simply leave, all could act as if nothing had happened.
Instead, Posada held a press conference as if to say, “I’m here, and what are you going to do about it?”
What they did was to bring federal charges against Posada for lying to immigration authorities about his entry and his background. He was tried in El Paso and acquitted April 8.
The Bush and Obama Administrations deserve credit for bringing charges, but their strategy did not pan out, and we are back at square one. We have a person whom our government views as a terrorist living freely in our country, not being extradited, and not being charged here for terrorism – either for the 1997 hotel bombings or for the 1976 downing of the Cubana airliner in Barbados, for which Posada faces charges in Caracas.
Soon the United States will renew its annual designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” based in part on the allegation that Cuba allows members of Colombia’s FARC and Spain’s ETA to reside in Cuba just as Posada resides here. It triggers a series of financial sanctions against Cuba, including the recent SEC harassment of a Spanish bank because it maintains a single employee in Cuba.
Posada was a “real headache” for the United States, former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega told Daniel P. Erikson in his book The Cuba Wars (p. 182), what with “people being able to say we’re sheltering a terrorist.”
Noriega’s personal conviction was that Posada is a Cuban agent. His personal preference: “Send the old bastard back to Venezuela.”
Would that it were that simple, then or now.