From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Families of victims of airliner bombing
call for exile's extradition

Posada's lawyer has said the exile, 77, is in Florida and has applied for asylum in the United States.

Several activists accused President Bush of hypocrisy, saying the war on terror that the White House has declared a top priority is a sham if the United States allows Posada to stay.

"If you stand against terrorism in one place, you have to stand against terrorism all across the board, no matter who is involved," said the Rev. Graylan Hagler, senior minister at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, and a well-known peace activist.

Administration officials are not commenting on Posada and have said they don't know if he is in the country.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and an administration supporter, said Friday that she did not know if Posada is here and would not comment on what should be done if he is. "I don't deal in hypotheticals. We'll wait to see what he does and we can discuss it then," she said.

The Bush administration may be hesitant to send Posada to Venezuela because that country's president, Hugo Chavez, is friendly with Cuban President Fidel Castro and antagonistic toward the United States.

Dagoberto Rodriguez, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and Cuba's top diplomat in the United States, dismissed suggestions that Cuba might try to get Posada extradited to the island if he were sent to Venezuela.

"Cuba has said it many times, that even though we have every right ... we won't do it," Rodriguez said. "He should be tried in Venezuela."

Family members of the 1976 victims said Posada should be sent to Venezuela.

"My brother worked hard to get where he wanted to go," said Trevor Persaud, whose brother Raymond Persaud was on his way to study medicine when the plane was blown out of the sky near Barbados.

"He always wanted to be a doctor," Persaud said.

More testimony came via videotape from several people in Cuba whose family members died on the flight.

"This man did not give me the joy of knowing a father's love," said Lucia Perez Rodriguez, the daughter of the airplane's captain, Wilfredo Perez Perez. She was 2 when her father was killed.

Perez and eight others were interviewed on camera in Cuba by Gloria La Riva, an activist who has coordinated efforts to free five Cuban men convicted of spy-related charges in the United States.

A march scheduled for Tuesday in Havana is expected to focus attention on the Posada case. In addition, Castro has given several lengthy televised speeches in recent weeks in which he has read newspaper stories about the case and railed against the U.S. government for what he describes as hypocrisy in the war on terror.

Newly declassified CIA and FBI documents implicate Posada in the 1976 bombing, saying he attended planning sessions in Venezuela. The documents also say Posada, a former Venezuelan security official, was on the CIA payroll in the 1960s.

Orlando Bosch Avila, another man the documents connect to the bombing, lives in Miami. A Venezuelan court acquitted Bosch in the case, and when he returned to the United States the first President Bush pardoned him before the Justice Department could attempt to deport him.

Posada's supporters say the source in the CIA and FBI documents, who is now dead, later recanted his story.


(South Florida Sun-Sentinel correspondent Vanessa Bauza contributed to this report.)


? 2005 South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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