Cuba angry about acquittal of militant Cuban ex-CIA operative
A jury's acquittal last week of a militant Cuban who once worked as a CIA asset in the agency's struggle to topple former President Fidel Castro has infuriated Cuba and its allies. Luis Posada Carilles was cleared by a Texas jury of 11 perjury counts on April 8 after an 11-week trial. Posada was accused by federal prosecutors of lying to U.S. immigration officials about his role in a 1997 hotel bombing in Cuba that killed an Italian tourist.
Cuba says that Posada, 83, is a terrorist and that his acquittal underscores the hypocrisy of a U.S. system that lets politics overtake justice. The verdict also represents a double standard on terrorism, with the U.S. designating "good terrorists" and "bad terrorists," Cuba's ambassador to Mexico Manuel Aguilera told the daily La Jornada (link in Spanish).
Long a controversial presence throughout the Americas, Posada is also wanted by Venezuela for trial in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner en route from Caracas to Havana in which all 73 people aboard were killed. Posada was a CIA covert operative at the time.
Actually, the trial in Texas had provided rare common cause for the U.S. and Cuban governments, as Julia E. Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations and Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive noted in an op-ed piece in The Times.
"This is a groundbreaking case," they wrote as the trial began in January. "It is notable that the U.S. government, whose Central Intelligence Agency trained, paid and deployed Posada to conduct violent operations against Cuba in the 1960s, has finally decided to prosecute him. And the case is remarkable for the substantive cooperation it has produced between the Cuban and U.S. governments."
But now, in the start-and-stop process of improving U.S.-Cuba ties, that spirit of cooperation and goodwill has suffered a setback with the acquittal. Posada, for his part, made a triumphant return to the Cuban exile community in Miami, where he said he remained a committed soldier in his anti-communist crusade.
--Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City
Photo: Portion of a U.S. Justice Department summary of the CIA' s relationship with Posada, presented in court. Credit: National Security Archive.