Transcript: Press Conference demanding extradition of Luis Posada Carriles


Below is a partial transcript of a press conference that took place on Tuesday, May 20, 2008, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The press conference announced a national mobilization to pressure the U.S. government to either extradite or prosecute Luis Posada Carriles for the bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner, the placement of bombs at tourist hotels in Cuba in the 1990s, and other terrorist acts.

José Pertierra
U.S. attorney
representing Venezuela in extradition case

"I am an attorney representing the government of Venezuela in its request of June 15, 2005 to the United States for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles. Mr. Posada Carriles is under indictment and subject to a fugitive warrant in Venezuela in relation to 73 counts of first-degree murder related to the bombing of a passenger plane on Oct. 6, 1976. The only response thus far that the U.S. State Department has given Venezuela to our extradition request was a diplomatic note, dated Nov. 9, 2006, wherein the government informed us that it would "soon" be sending us some questions about the case. We have yet to receive those questions in response to our request for extradition.

"It is outrageous that the U.S. government allows a convicted terrorist to live freely in Miami and incite his followers to violence. It is outrageous that the U.S. government refused to invoke the Patriot Act and lock him up. It is outrageous that the U.S. government refuses to abide by its international treaty obligations and extradite Posada Carriles to Venezuela or prosecute him in this country for murder.

"In response to Posada's recent calls to violence in Miami, the government of Venezuela delivered a diplomatic note to the State Department on May 7, 2008, expressing its deep concerns that the U.S. government permits Posada to make incendiary calls to violence while he has pending legal charges in Venezuela against him for terrorism. In the diplomatic note, Venezuela once again asks the United States government to exercise an extradition detainer against him and to commence the process of extradition. We have yet to receive a response.

"Yesterday we learned that Posada Carriles' principal financial benefactor and accomplice in many terrorist acts, a man by the name of Santiago Álvarez Fernández Magriña, sent money to dissidents in Cuba, allegedly through the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Michael Parmly. Santiago Alvarez is the person who illegally smuggled Posada Carriles into the United States aboard the yacht Santrina in March, 2005.

"Santiago Alvarez participated in the terrorist actions on Cuba on Oct. 12, 1971, which caused the deaths of two persons. Although not present with him in Panama at the time, he helped Posada Carriles with the logistics of trying to blow up a university auditorium using C-4 explosives in Panama in the year 2000. He financed Posada Carriles' defense in Panama, and sent a plane which spirited him out of Panama into hiding in Honduras. On April 26, 2001, Alvarez financed and directed a small group of terrorists who infiltrated the province of Villa Clara in Cuba with the purpose of setting off bombs there. His voice can be heard on a tape recording with one of the terrorists he sent to Cuba, recommending that the terrorists set off two cans of explosives against the popular Tropicana nightclub in Havana."

Wayne Smith
former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, from 1979-1982
Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy

"There is very little that I can add to what José Pertierra has said. Posada is a known terrorist, and here he is in the United States. The U.S. government is perfectly aware of his crimes, and he walks free. This is shameful, it's a blot on our nation. There are people trying to bring justice back to our nation in this context. We at the Center for International Policy are doing another conference on Thursday about Posada Carriles and other exiled terrorists who are walking freely in the United States. Let me say that the US government is perfect aware of them, there is no question of that. But it chooses not to take action against them. We want to bring this to the fore. Tomorrow the U.S. government will make a statement about its policy towards Cuba, including some of these activities we are talking about today. The next morning we will respond to its position to what it has to say. We invite you all to come, to hear our response to the US government.

"I must say as someone who was once in the Department of State, in the diplomatic service, I feel a deep sense of shame and pain as I look at what the US is doing today not only in terms of its relations with Cuba, but around the world. But this is particularly painful and flagrant. Cuba has offered to negotiate, to have a dialogue with the United States. Surely it would be in everyone’s interests, we have a different system to be sure. But there are various conflicts of interest that it would be in the interests of both sides to resolve.

"A sensible government would sit down with the Cuban government to discuss those differences and resolve them. Cuba is a special case, the U.S. government finds it very difficult. People have asked ‘Why is it difficult for the U.S. to deal with Cuba?’ Well there is no sensible, logical explanation to that. I think the U.S. still tends to see Cuba as that little country that we should have occupied as of 1898. We have a very skewed emotional view in relation to Cuba. I hope we are getting over that. I hope that after the elections, there will be a greater possibility, assuming that Obama wins. If McCain wins, given that he has just appointed Otto Reich as his coordinator, advisor on Cuba, we all know where Reich stands, I don’t think there is any chance of that at all. But if Obama is elected, despite some reservations, I think there will be a possibility for improved relations, a more sensible relationship between the two countries. We must all work for that."

Gloria La Riva,
National Coordinator
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

"Speaking on behalf of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and the more than 350 organizations that have been established around the world and in the United States to demand the freedom of five Cuban nationals who are imprisoned in the United States, serving from 15 years to double life sentences for having peacefully monitored the actions of the terrorist whom we have mentioned and many more--we demand more vigorously than ever the immediate freedom of the Cuban Five, who are scattered in U.S. prisons and facing very, very dangerous situations while in prison.

"The hypocrisy of the Bush administration stands out in great contrast here, with what Bush has done in harboring, nurturing, supporting, financing the terrorist who run free in Miami while the Cuban Five have met every type of persecution possible by the same administration.

"I was in Atlanta Aug. 20 of last year when we heard the oral arguments for the Cuban Five, and we are awaiting the decision any day now. But even before that decision comes from the three-judge panel, we are demanding of the Bush administration to respect the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which found numerous violations of due process in the United States in relation to this case.

"We were also at the oral arguments on Feb. 14, 2006, in Atlanta, when the U.S. Attorney, Alexander Acosta, Cuban-American in Miami, U.S. prosecutor, argued vigorously for the imprisonment of the Cuban Five, and to overturn the victory they had won - they had won a retrial. He argued against the Cuban Five, and shortly thereafter he argued for a reduction in sentence of Santiago Alvarez, the terrorist who, as revealed yesterday by Cuba, has been sending on a regular basis $1,500 to one of the so-called dissidents in Cuba, Martha Beatriz Roque. Santiago Alvarez, a known terrorist, is being released early on a very meager four-year sentence for having massive caches of weapons, thanks in part to the U.S. attorney who is fighting to keep the Cuban Five in prison. That is an absolute double-standard."

"Along with the ANSWER Coalition and the speakers, we are going to keep linking the two demands, that of freedom for the men who were fighting terrorism, who would be considered heroes in any country, and the extradition of Posada and prosecution of the Miami terrorists.

"As Jose Pertierra said, Santiago Alvarez is the shadow of Posada, supporting him for years. Among other actions, Alvarez walked into the Miami police supply store in March, 2001, and personally bought eight AK-47 assault rifles, 2000 rounds of ammunition, and pistols. These weapons were later intercepted by the Cuban border patrol in the hands of four men who tried to infiltrate Cuba to carry out massive attacks on Cuba. When one of them confessed to Cuba, while he was being filmed by Cuban television, he called Santiago Alvarez and asked, 'What do I do with these cans of C-4 explosive?' And Alvarez tells him, 'Throw them in the Tropicana nightclub and do away with all that,' meaning hundreds of people. This is Santiago Alvarez.

"And then when the sister of this young man, Raymond Persaud, who was killed in that plane bombing, a 19-year-old Guyanese student, flying to Cuba for the first time in his life to study medicine in Cuba, and never returned, because he died on that plane. His sisters came to El Paso, when the ANSWER Coalition sponsored a protest in front of the courtroom where Posada was only facing immigration charges, that was Aug. 29, 2005. The sisters had requested of Homeland Security the right to enter the courtroom to be witnesses for their brother and the other victims. And Homeland Security Barbara Gonzalez said no, you cannot enter. And two minutes later, she allowed Santiago Alvarez to walk into the courtroom. Once again we call on the Bush administration to free the Cuban Five and extradite Luis Posada Carriles."

Brian Becker
National Coordinator
ANSWER Coalition

"The ANSWER Coalition has made the connection between the Bush foreign policy in the Middle East—which uses every extraordinary measure to carry out regime change against sovereign countries--with the policy pursued by this administration and earlier administrations against the people of Cuba and the Cuban government. We consider the Iraq war to be an exercise in state terrorism. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead.

"Most Americans know about that, but what is less known is that since 1959, as a consequence of U.S.-supported, organized and CIA-led operations, using tactics of terrorism, almost 3,500 Cubans have died. Luis Posada Carriles, who was involved along with Orlando Bosch and financed by the terrorist Santiago Alvarez, was involved in numerous paramilitary actions against the people of Cuba, including the Oct. 6, 1976 bombing of a civilian airliner that took the lives of 73 human beings, and the organization of bombs in hotels in Cuba in 1997 that lead to death and injury and property destruction.

"Today Luis Posada Carriles, having been brought, smuggled into the United States illegally, after being prematurely released from prison in Panama, brought here by Santiago Alvarez, walks as a free man, given safe harbor by the Bush administration. Posada Carriles said, even on May 2 in Miami, that the Cuban right-wing CIA-backed terrorists must 'sharpen their machetes' against the Cuban government. It is a thinly-veiled euphemism because they're not using machetes, they're using bombs planted on planes, and planted in the lobbies of hotels."

Eugene Puryear
Howard University student leader

"A grand jury in New Jersey has been meeting for three years now in regard that money that was sent to Posada Carriles in order to help fund these terrorist bombings that happened in 1997, and after those three years, the U.S. government is yet to enter an indictment on that case. Why is that notable? Because in 1998, the New York Times, which we know is the “newspaper of record” in this country, Posada not only admitted that being behind these attacks in 1997, but boasted that he was behind these attacks. He said that he didn’t worry at all. He said with a chuckle according to the article, about the hotel bombings, ‘I sleep like a baby.’

"He is responsible for the bombing of the plane, and was a torturer in the Venezuelan police, DISIP, in the 1970s. I hope everyone gets a copy of the Posada DVD, in which you will hear firsthand the witnesses and victims of the various attacks.

"All this time Posada since he's entered this country has been allowed to walk free and to face no real legal repercussions for what he has done. And this is why the ANSWER Coalition has taken up this case because we believe that Posada and his terrorist cohorts should not be allowed to escape justice again. For years and years now, as they've been operating on the CIA payroll, murdering people and torturing people, Posada and his friends have depended on their allies in right-wing governments and all sorts of governments, as well as wealthy friends, to keep them out of trouble time and time again. And clearly, here in the United States, that's exactly what they're expecting to happen again, that their friends in the government, and their wealthy friends around the country, will allow them to escape justice. We say that for our part, we will not let that stand. We demand that Luis Posada Carriles be charged with the murder of Fabio Di Celmo, because that's exactly what it is, and that he be immediately arrested and tried."

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
attorney and co-founder
Partnership for Civil Justice

"We have filed late yesterday a FOIA request on behalf of he ANSWER and NC. This FOIA is a demand to force the U.S. government to release documents related to the breaking news stories about the funneling of money from Alvarez through the hands of U.S. government officials in Cuba to Cuban citizens seeking to destabilize the Cuban government and the people of Cuba. The government of the United States, we all know well, when George Bush talks about his war on terrorism, more often than not, it is a war of terrorism. The Bush administration is not only themselves as we know funding Cubans in Cuba anti-government Cubans, they are actually taking cash from a known terrorist, a man who is in prison for stockpiling weapons, a man who has worked hard for an awfully long time to fund terrorist activities and supporters of terrorist activities, including Posada Carriles, taking that money and handing over to people inside Cuba. What can that money be for? What can that money be for?

"We know full well where that money goes, where those weapons go, what their intended purposes are, and the U.S. government, is an active partner in taking cash from terrorists in the United States and handing it over to people in Cuba to carry out what acts.

"The Cuban government has put this information out there. If the United States government has nothing to hide, then show us your documents. Give us your documents right away. We have filed this demand, they are required by law to respond to this demand.

"They say to the press that they're doing nothing illegal. They say to the press that they're just providing humanitarian aid, a noteworthy point when the government of the United States has done everything it can to starve and blockade the people of Cuba for decades. But they hand out cash when they want to hand out cash. But people who simply want to help out their families in Cuba can’t do it, people who want to travel lawfully get prosecuted by the Treasury Department. The FOIA request is available on the ANSWER Coalition website, the Partnership for Civil Justice website, and the Free the Five website. WE will issue updates as to the response of the government. If they do not provide these documents in the time that they are obligated by law to provide them, we will go into federal court and we will file a lawsuit."

Statement from Livio Di Celmo,
Brother of Fabio Di Celmo, murdered on Sept. 4, 1997
by terrorist bomb produced by Luis Posada Carriles

"This year will be the 10th anniversary of the death of my brother Fabio Di Celmo, an Italian/Canadian resident killed in a terrorist attack on Cuban tourist installations in September of 1997. It was the work of mercenaries hired by Luis Posada Carriles and his associates in the U.S. anti-Cuban terrorists’ groups thriving in Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere in the U.S.

"During these ten years the Di Celmo family has witnessed with horror and dismay the web of protection that exists around these elements, and the unfolding events aimed at protecting and aiding these terrorists. We have heard and became aware of US congresspersons—Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen--openly supporting and having close ties with these violent elements. We have noticed and discovered corporations like Bacardi making statements that support violence against Cuba. We have seen a corrupted Panamanian president Mireya Moscoso release terrorists involved in the murder o Fabio Di Celmo and other innocent people. We have witnessed the U.S. government imprisoning five Cuban men who were monitoring Cuban-American terrorist groups in order to prevent acts of terrorism. Finally we have watched Posada Carriles being released from jail in the U.S. on immigration violations, without ever being branded a terrorist while the evidence available clearly proves the evil intent of these people and their relationship with the U.S. government intelligence services, non-governmental organizations and other entities involved in the dirty foreign policy against Cuba.

"The Di Celmo family remains united with the families of all the victims of terrorism against Cuba in their search for justice. We hope that the American people will become fully aware of their government’s double standard on terrorism, to realize that the US government and in particular the Bush family has played a key role in the evolution of terrorism aimed at Cuba in the last 48years:

"On Oct. 6, 1976 Cubana flight 455, with 73 people on board, was blown up by the anti cuban terrorists Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch.

"In 1997 bombs in Havana killed an innocent man, Fabio Di Celmo.

"In 2008 the mastermind of these terror campaigns, Posada Carriles and his associates are free in Miami while the Cuban Five, who were monitoring these monsters are in U.S. jails serving life sentences on fabricated charges. Amidst all this injustice millions of people around the world have answered the call to join in to unmask and eliminate once for all the terrorist acts against Cuba.

"We the families of the victims invite all Americans who still care for real values to join in, become aware of, and become involved. Don't let your government get away with this, your integrity as a nation is at stake here.

"Luis Posada Carriles and his associates must pay for their crimes, Carriles in particular must be extradited to Venezuela as requested. The hearing in El Paso May 11, 2008 on Immigration issues and the US government’s refusal to brand Posada a terrorist is in insult to the memories of his victims. Fabio Di Celmo died ten years ago because of terrorism. His memory lives on in the many solidarity groups with Cuba from around the world which have adopted his name for their cause.

"We will not stop until the families and victims of Posada gain justice."

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