by Marc Rome / October 2005
In Sept. 27, Judge William Abbot, presiding in an El Paso, Texas, federal immigration court, granted Luis Posada Carriles at least temporary shelter from receiving justice in Venezuela despite his long history of crime and terrorism.
For more than 40 years, Posada carried out CIA directives, mainly against the Cuban government. He is known to have planned and funded the 1976 Cubana Airlines bombing that killed 73 people over the island of Barbados.
The judge remanded Posada to the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. The Department of Homeland Security now has 90 days to find a country willing to harbor Posada.
According to Jose Pertierra, attorney for the Venezuelan government, “There are two dangers now. The U.S. government can send him to a third country in the coming three months to avoid his extradition to Venezuela; or may refuse to deport him and release him on bail, as it did in the case of Posada’s crony, Orlando Bosch.” Bosch was pardoned by Bush Senior in
1990, although he had been arrested by the U.S. in 1968 for terrorist activities and copious evidence also named him as a co-conspirator in the Cubana Airlines bombing.
The judge ordered the deferral to deport Posada to Venezuela based on the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT), which prohibits the United States from extraditing or deporting anyone to a country with a proven record of torturing prisoners.
The argument that Posada would be tortured if sent to Venezuela was based on the one-day testimony on Aug. 30 of the sole witness, Joaquin Fernando Chaffardet, a Venezuelan lawyer and friend of Posada going back to the 1970s, when they worked in the Venezuelan secret
The entire course of U.S. governmental response in this case underscored a willingness to ignore not only their 1922 extradition treaty with Venezuela—along with two other applicable extradition treaties—but also their own proscription against harboring terrorists. Consistent with this stance, the prosecution (Dept. of Homeland Security) rested its case against Posada on Sept. 26, presenting neither a witness nor evidence, nor cross-examining Chaffardet. Judge Abbott seemed unconcerned whether Chaffardet’s friendly connection to Posada would compromise his credibility. He said, ”If Adolf Hitler applied for CAT, this court would have to grant deferral” (Sept. 1 Miami Herald).
According to the Sept. 1 Miami Herald, lead prosecuting attorney Gina Garret-Jackson said, “We have serious concerns about Mr. Posada’s claim to torture in Venezuela.” The report continued, “Her statement mirrored a statement to The Herald late Tuesday by Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke, who said of Posada: ‘We have serious and weighty
concerns about the notion of a removal to Venezuela.'”
In seeking protection against both deportation for illegal entry into the United States and extradition requested by Venezuela, Posada’s lawyer, Matthew Archambeault, “struck an apparent compromise,” with Garrett-Jackson, reported the Sept. 1 Miami Herald. The compromise allowed for Posada’s defense to invoke CAT in the first place, rather than continue the case for asylum, which Posada’s defense openly acknowledged involved disclosing evidence that would embarrass the U.S.
However, Posada himself had already made clear his connection to the CIA in a 1998 interview with The New York Times: “They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.” Attorney Matthew Archambeault said of the court decision, ”This is what we envisioned was going to happen from the beginning” (Sept. 29 Inter Press Service).
Indeed, the trial was seen as a farce from the beginning by millions of Venezuelans, Cubans, and solidarity activists worldwide. It serves to further dispel the illusion that the United States is a bastion of peace, freedom, and democracy.