[News] Ricardo Alarcon on the Release of Posada Carriles

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 10 12:22:25 EDT 2007


Thursday, May 10th, 2007

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/10/1418232


EXCLUSIVE: Cuban National Assembly President 
Ricardo Alarcon on the Release of Ex-CIA 
Operative Posada Carriles, the Cuban 5, 
Guantanamo and the Health of Fidel Castro


----------
We go to Havana for an exclusive interview with 
the President of the Cuban National Assembly 
Ricardo Alarcon. The Cuban and Venezuelan 
governments have repeated their calls for former 
CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles to be 
extradited to stand trial for his role in the 
1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 
people. Posada was scheduled to go on trial in 
Texas on Friday for immigration fraud but a U.S. 
federal judge tossed out the indictment on 
Tuesday making Posada a free man. Alarcon also 
talks about the plight of the Cuban 5, Guantanamo 
Bay, and the health of the ailing Cuban President 
Fidel Castro. [includes rush transcript]

----------
The Cuban and Venezuelan governments have 
repeated their calls for former CIA operative 
Luis Posada Carriles to be extradited to stand 
trial for his role in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban 
airliner that killed 73 people. Posada was 
scheduled to go on trial in Texas on Friday for 
immigration fraud but a U.S. federal judge tossed 
out the indictment on Tuesday making Posada a 
free man. Critics of the Bush administration's 
handling of the Posada case say it demonstrates a 
U.S. double standard on terrorism. Posada has 
been linked to several acts of terrorism in 
addition to the 1976 airline bombing. He is 
currently being investigated by a grand jury in 
New Jersey for masterminding a string of hotel 
bombings in Havana in the 1990s. Evidence has 
also emerged linking him to a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Meanwhile pressure is growing in Washington for 
President Bush to take action against Posada. On 
Wednesday Democratic Congressman William Delahunt 
urged Bush to detain Posada and certify him as a 
terrorist under the Patriot Act. Congressman 
Delahant said the U.S. government should not be 
giving sanctuary to a man he described as "one of 
the Western Hemisphere's most notorious killers." 
Democratic Congressman Jose Serrano of New York 
also condemned the Bush administration's handling 
of the Posada case. Serrano said: "It further 
weakens our moral standing in the world as we 
will undoubtedly be seen as being biased in our 
ongoing war on terrorism. We go now to Havana for 
an exclusive interview with the President of the 
Cuban National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon.

    * Ricardo Alarcon.President of the Cuban National Assembly.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Cuban and Venezuelan 
governments have repeated their calls for former 
CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles to be 
extradited to stand trial for his role in the 
1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 
seventy-three people. Posada was scheduled to go 
on trial in Texas on Friday for immigration 
fraud, but a US federal judge tossed out the 
indictment Tuesday, making Posada a free man. 
Critics of the Bush administration’s handling of 
the Posada case say it demonstrates a US double 
standard on terrorism. Posada has been linked to 
several acts of terrorism in addition to the 1976 
airline bombing. He is currently being 
investigated by a grand jury in New Jersey for 
masterminding a string of hotel bombings in 
Havana in the 1990s. Evidence has also emerged 
linking him to a plot to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, pressure is growing in 
Washington for President Bush to take action 
against Posada. On Wednesday, Democratic 
Congressmember William Delahunt urged Bush to 
detain Posada and certify him as a terrorist 
under the PATRIOT Act. Delahunt said the US 
government should not be giving sanctuary to a 
man he described as “one of the Western 
hemisphere’s most notorious killers.” Democratic 
Congressmember Jose Serrano of New York also 
condemned the Bush administration’s handling of 
the Posada case. Serrano said, "It further 
weakens our moral standing in the world, as we 
will undoubtedly be seen as being biased in our ongoing war on terrorism."

We go now to Havana for an exclusive satellite 
interview with the president of the Cuban 
National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon. Welcome to Democracy Now!

RICARDO ALARCON: Good morning, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us.

RICARDO ALARCON: Nice to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: First, your response to the release 
of Posada and also the dropping of the charges 
against him, albeit they were just on immigration issues.

RICARDO ALARCON: Well, I think that what happened 
the other day in El Paso was a decision by Judge 
Cardone that put an end to a charade that was 
organized by the administration. They had spent 
two years not indicting Posada, not prosecuting 
him for his real crimes, but playing games with 
these alleged migratory infractions that, 
according to the judge, in case he were to be 
found guilty of those violations, he would get 
only half a year or one year in prison, and he has served already two.

The issue now is very simple. I think that the 
situation is now more clear. He is a free man, 
because the charges were dismissed -- the 
migratory phony charges. Now, it is up to the US 
administration to abide by its obligations, 
according to international treaties, according to 
American law, to prosecute a terrorist or to 
allow him to go free. I think that the issue is 
now more clear than it was before, due to the 
maneuvering of the administration.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Here in the United States, 
obviously, many Americans are still not aware of 
the role of Posada Carriles in past terrorism 
actions, and it’s been caught up quite a bit, 
obviously, in the continuing conflict between the 
US government and the government of President 
Chavez and, of course, of your government. But 
the indictments of him in Venezuela predate the 
Chavez administration, don't they? Could you talk 
a little bit about those original indictments?

RICARDO ALARCON: The destruction at midair of a 
Cubana airplane in 1976 took place at a time 
where Mr. Hugo Chavez was a teenager beginning 
his military education. Nobody knew about him. It 
was a very pro-American administration in 
Venezuela, led by President Carlos Andres Perez, 
who asked publicly -- went publicly at the UN to 
the US government as friend: “Please help us to 
make justice in this case, because people are 
saying in the Caribbean that the CIA was involved 
on that.” It was another Venezuelan government.

It was the Venezuelan highest court who declared 
Mr. Posada a fugitive of justice when he 
“escaped” -- quote/unquote -- from prison before 
the court, the Venezuelan court, having sentenced 
him or having concluded the process. Remember 
that this man almost immediately went from a 
Venezuelan prison to Ilopango Base in San 
Salvador, and he reappeared as a key element in 
the Iran-Contra affair, distributing weapons to 
the Contras at that time -- the Nicaraguan 
Contras at that time, when the US Congress had 
forbidden that, and violating the law from the 
White House. Then this man disappeared again, 
continued to be a fugitive of justice, and reappeared two years ago in Miami.

What is the situation now? After 9/11, the US 
promoted a resolution that is mandatory at the 
Security Council that, among other things, 
establishes that arguments of a political nature 
may not be admitted to deny extraditions to 
individuals associated with or allegedly 
associated with terrorist actions. And that is 
exactly what the US is doing at this moment. They 
do not have any option, according to 
international law, either to extradite Posada to 
Venezuela to continue the trial he was going 
through there twenty years ago or to prosecute 
him and present him to an American court of law, 
but on those real crimes, not on phony migratory 
charges, and that’s in a very summary fashion.

But let me tell you something else. Last week, a 
number of documents were declassified. They 
appear now in the National Security Archive’s 
<http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/>website, 
especially documents coming from the authorities 
from two governments in the Caribbean: Trinidad 
and Tobago and Barbados. Remember that this man 
and his group were not just involved in 
destroying a Cuban plane, a Cuban plane, by the 
way, in which a number of young Guyanese were 
traveling and were killed. Before the plane 
attack, these same individuals attacked several 
Trinidadian buildings, institutions, several 
Barbadian buildings and institutions, Jamaicans 
and so on. In other words, what the US is doing 
by not prosecuting Mr. Posada on that is not only 
a bilateral matter with Cuba or with Venezuela, 
it’s also an insult to the Caribbean nations, 
which together we worked, we cooperated in the 
'70s, and we decided collectively at an 
international conference that was held in Port of 
Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, that 
Venezuela will prosecute and have the trial.

Barbados investigated the technical aspect of the 
destruction of the plane, and they succeeded in 
determining that it was the result of bombs that 
were exploded at the passengers’ cabin of the 
plane. Trinidad and Tobago, on its part, had 
detained the two material authors of that act, 
and they made the criminal investigation and 
provided plenty of evidence that were submitted 
to the Venezuelan tribunal. In other words, it 
was an example of international cooperation 
involving the whole Caribbean area.

And now the US is insulting the Caribbean 
nations, the Cuban people, of course, the victims 
of that heinous act, but also the American 
people, because it is ignoring its very clear 
obligations either -- I repeat, either -- to 
extradite or to prosecute, according to the 
Montreal convention on crimes against civil 
aviation. There are only two choices, not a third 
one. You cannot find in that convention a third 
option. Having your friend walking around in 
Miami, that’s completely illegal. It’s an insult to humanity.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Ricardo Alarcon, 
president of the Cuban National Assembly. He is 
sitting outside in Havana, Cuba. When we come 
back, we’ll continue our conversation, and then 
we’ll go to Washington, D.C., from terror in the 
skies to terror in the seas, and talk about a man 
selling weapons to the US government who was 
involved in the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. 
That was the Greenpeace ship in 1985 in Auckland 
Harbour in New Zealand. He is living in McLean, Virginia. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We continue our exclusive interview 
with Ricardo Alarcon by satellite outside in 
Havana, Cuba. Ricardo Alarcon, president of the 
Cuban National Assembly, long talked about as the 
number three man in Cuba. We’re talking about the 
release of Luis Posada Carriles, the actual 
dropping of all charges against him. He was 
supposed to stand trial in El Paso, Texas, 
tomorrow on immigration fraud, long implicated in 
the 1976 bombing of the Cubana civilian airliner 
flight that killed all seventy-three people on 
board, among those dead, the entire Cuban fencing team.

Ricardo Alarcon, one of the bits of information 
that came up in the lead-up to the trial that now 
will not happen is the discussion to try to stop 
Posada from talking about his CIA connections, 
the fact that he was on the CIA payroll. What do you know about this?

RICARDO ALARCON: Well, the government presented a 
motion asking for complete exclusion of any 
reference to Posada's connections with the CIA, 
arguing that those links were finished in 1976. 
Mr. Posada himself, on a legal document in reply 
to that motion, rejected that, and he said that 
he has been working for the CIA beyond that date. 
To quote him, more or less, he said, “I have been 
involved with them for more than twenty-five 
years.” That means that -- and he made, as a 
point of reference -- he recalled -- he said, as 
a matter of history, that the Iran-Contra affair, 
that was well in the ’80s, and he was working for 
the CIA and -- not only the CIA -- the White 
House, remember, at that time. That means that 
according to him, he was a CIA agent at the time 
he masterminded the destruction in midair of a 
civilian airplane. And I imagine why the US 
government, the prosecutors, didn’t want any 
discussion about CIA connection at that trial, at 
that phony trial, by the way, that now doesn’t 
exist anymore due to the decision of the judge.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And also, President Alarcon, the 
issue of whether he is retired from his 
activities in terrorism -- clearly, about two 
years ago in Miami, one of his major backers -- 
Santiago Alvarez is one of his financial backers 
-- was arrested with a huge cache of weapons and 
explosives, so it would seem to indicate that at 
least that there is still some continuing 
activity of those who are seeking to foment 
terrorism against Cuba and other progressive movements in Latin America.

RICARDO ALARCON: More than that, Juan. I don’t 
know if you followed some news that came out from 
Miami this week. Santiago Alvarez and Mr. Mitat 
found an agreement with the prosecutors, the 
federal prosecutors, to reduce their very low 
sentences. They got three years and four years. 
Now, that will be reduced -- do you know at the 
exchange of what? A few dozens of automatic 
weapons, some C4 explosives, some bombs, some 
other weaponry. That means these guys were found 
with a lot of weaponry, illegal weaponry; now -- 
obviously they have more -- they give another 
amount and, in exchange of that, their sentence 
will be reduced. How much do they still have in 
hiding in Miami? And that’s a news of this week. That’s Monday, I think.

AMY GOODMAN: Ricardo Alarcon, what about the FBI 
coming to Cuba and the congress members and 
senators who are objecting to the FBI going to 
Cuba to gather information about Luis Posada's crimes and links to terrorism?

RICARDO ALARCON: Well, let me tell you, first of 
all, that it is true that they came here, and 
they got information that they were seeking. And 
I would like to add that that was not the first 
time. We have always been prepared and advocating 
international cooperation in the struggle against 
terrorism. Remember that in 1997, ’98, a 
delegation from the FBI came down here after some 
bombings in Havana hotels and some tourist 
resorts down here in Cuba. At that time, we got 
in contact with President Clinton. We warned him 
that part of the plans that existed at that 
moment, which, by the way, have been confirmed by 
some of the declassified documents that you may 
find at the National Security Archives, that they 
were planning again, Amy, again the destruction 
of civilian airplanes in midair, not Cuban 
planes, but foreign planes bringing foreign 
tourists to this country. [inaudible] was ’98.

Nothing happened. No one was indicted. No one was 
prosecuted. And instead of that, the US 
authorities, the FBI, arrested five Cubans who 
were peacefully, without harming anybody, 
unarmed, were gathering precisely the information 
we transmitted to the FBI. They had been doing 
that since that time and very recently down here 
in Havana, and we are still waiting. What it the 
US going to do? Are they going to abide by their 
international obligations, or again we’ll have to 
wait and see until another attack, another destruction, happens?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, your intelligence activities 
in the past have uncovered several plots. I seem 
to recall that back in 2000, when President 
Castro was in Panama for the Iberian Summit, that 
he then announced that your intelligence had 
discovered that Posada Carriles was in Panama at 
that very moment plotting more attacks, and some 
explosives were found. Your sense of -- do you 
feel that your country basically is having to 
continue to ferret out these terrorists with no 
assistance from the United States or any other major nations?

RICARDO ALARCON: I didn’t get completely the question, Juan.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Is it your sense that your country 
is being forced to try to do its own intelligence 
to ferret out, to discover these plots with no 
assistance at all from the United States or other major countries?

RICARDO ALARCON: Of course. Of course. The whole 
process around Mr. Posada is the best 
demonstration of the innocence of our five 
comrades now arrested or in prison in the US. 
It’s the best proof of the need of defense that 
we have. It’s a principle of national and 
international law, the so-called “doctrine of 
necessity.” In some circumstances, you need to 
violate some minor regulations, that they did, in 
order to save a more important value -- in this 
case, human lives. Certainly, you have Mr. Posada 
back in Miami, together with his old pal Mr. 
Orlando Bosch, who was part of a President Bush 
-- in a few weeks, maybe, they will be joined by 
Mr. Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat to 
continue playing with the rest of the C4, with 
the rest of the weaponry that they kept.

And what can we do? Well, on the one hand, we 
tried -- we have tried time and again to persuade 
the US authorities to recall then their 
obligations: please try to stop this, please try 
to avoid that incident to take place. And how 
could we do that? By human intelligence, by 
having people that sacrifice their lives, that at 
a very high price, in terms of their individual 
welfare, abandon their families to penetrate 
those groups to find out, to learn and to help us 
communicate with the FBI authorities to see if 
they would stop those actions. I think it’s 
absolutely clear. We have not only that right, we 
have that need. The US now is -- I think 
everybody there accepts the concept of human 
intelligence, that if somebody had to learn about 
9/11, you may have been able to avoid that. And 
the five comrades, the five compatriots that are 
in prison in the US saved many lives. They helped 
us to know in advance and to reduce the 
consequences, in some cases sharing the information with the FBI.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Ricardo Alarcon, 
president of the Cuban National Assembly. He’s in 
Havana. What about President Fidel Castro? How is 
his health right now? Many expected to see him at 
the May Day celebration. He didn’t show. He 
hasn’t been seen in public since July 31, 2006, 
since handing over power to his brother Raul. How is his health, Mr. Alarcon?

RICARDO ALARCON: He continues to recover, Amy. I 
can tell you that he’s doing pretty well. He has 
-- you can see in the most recent photograph, he 
has gained weight. He’s -- physically speaking, 
his situation has improved a lot and continues to 
improve. And at the same time, well, he has just 
published his fifth article in a row. He’s 
reading a lot, writing, and very much involved in 
the affairs of the country and the world. And he 
didn’t show up on May 1, but -- you have said I 
am in the outside in Havana. It is just 8:30, a 
little bit more. At that time was the parade, and 
I can assure you that the temperature down here 
is very, very high. To be standing there for a 
couple of hours perhaps was not the appropriate 
thing to do for a person that is following a 
certain discipline of advice by his doctors. I 
wish I would have been also reading a book 
instead of supporting this tremendous sunshine.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen him recently? And what 
actually is wrong with Fidel Castro?

RICARDO ALARCON: Well, I will not move from what 
we have said. Remember that this is the man 
against whom more attempts on his life has been 
made. Mr. Posada is a good example. He has spent 
decades trying to kill him. We have to be very 
discreet on what happens to him. But he, himself, 
explained in his first document, his 
proclamation, that he had suffered a serious and 
risky surgery. But he is in the process of 
recovering from that. That takes time, according 
to the doctors, and after all, he continues to be 
the leader of this revolution, continues to be 
contributing to it in a different manner than the 
one many people were accustomed. He is less 
present. He’s not present in demonstrations, and 
so on, but you can read, you can communicate with 
him, you can see how he is thinking about certain 
important issues of today’s world, which implies 
also that he’s reading a lot and meeting with 
people to handle certain important issues. It’s a 
matter of priorities, rather than abandoning responsibilities.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you also about the 
situation in Cuba vis-à-vis the rest of Latin 
America. Clearly, the wave of popular elections 
bringing in left-of-center governments in Latin 
America has continued, with the exception perhaps 
of the Mexican elections and Colombia, but how is 
Cuba faring in all of this, given the long period 
of -- the special period, the economic problems 
that the country faced about a decade ago? How is 
the economy of Cuba faring, given all these 
changes that are occurring in Latin America?

RICARDO ALARCON: Well, we never had a better 
relationship with Latin America than at the 
present time. For many years, we only had 
diplomatic relations and friendly relations with 
the small Caribbean nations and Mexico. Now, we 
have, of course, with the whole Caribbean and 
practically everybody in Latin America. And it is 
not only a matter of diplomatic, formal friendly 
relationships. It’s also an increase in trade, 
investments, economic cooperation, cultural 
cooperation. Venezuela, of course, in a very 
important place, but not only Venezuela, also 
Brazil, also Argentina, Chile, the rest. That is 
a reflection of something that goes beyond Cuba, 
that maybe some people in Washington should begin to think about it.

Latin America is changing, has changed a lot, and 
is changing. What has happened that the model 
that was imposed upon our peoples, the so-called 
neoliberal economic model with its political 
reflection, has failed, has completely failed and 
has provoked the eruption of masses of people, 
reclaiming for a new life, for better conditions, 
that has led to those changes in the area. And I 
am sure more changes will come, and that process 
will not be stopped. In the middle of that, of 
course, Cuba is enjoying, as I said, the best 
context than in any other moment of our history.

But apart from that, Cuba has excellent relations 
with a very important nation in this world named 
China and with other countries, including Russia, 
some Europeans and -- this legend about isolating 
Cuba, and so on, reminds me the other lies of the 
administration about the weapons of mass 
destruction or an al-Qaeda link with Saddam, and 
so on. It doesn’t make sense. The US is being 
defeated, is being isolated on that particular 
issue. You come down here, you will see investors 
from other countries, you will see partners from every part of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Ricardo Alarcon, we just have a 
minute, but I have a quick question about 
Guantanamo. Reports that in a post-Castro Cuba, 
it will be turned into an immigration center for 
Cubans to come to the United States, but, more 
importantly, how it’s being used right now as a 
prison for hundreds of men from around the world. We have thirty seconds.

RICARDO ALARCON: This prison should be closed 
down immediately, and Guantanamo should be 
returned to its rightful owner, the people of 
Cuba. And when we get -- it won’t be necessarily 
after this or that. When justice is made and 
returned to Cuba, for the first time the Cuban 
people will be able to use the best, the largest 
bay in the southern part of our country, which is 
Guantanamo, which has never been under Cuban control.

AMY GOODMAN: Ricardo Alarcon, I want to thank you 
for being with us, president of the Cuban 
National Assembly, speaking to us from Havana.




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