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Anti-Castro exile Luis Posada:
The kind of terrorist that Bush admires

By Nicole Colson | January 27, 2006 | Page 16

WILL THE Bush administration let a terrorist walk free? As Socialist Worker went to press, Luis Posada Carriles, a right-wing anti-Castro Cuban exile and the chief suspect in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner that killed 73 people, was scheduled to appear at a hearing where he could be set free.

Meanwhile, a Florida International University (FIU) professor and his wife are now in solitary confinement in Florida prisons--accused by the U.S. government of being "spies" for the Cuban government.

Together, these two cases lay bare the hypocrisy of the Bush administration preaching to the world about fighting terrorism--as well as the depths of the government's irrational anti-Castro policies.

Posada has been in the U.S. since March 2005, when he snuck into the country illegally after being pardoned in Panama for his part in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. After an international outcry, U.S. authorities arrested him.

Rather than extradite him to Venezuela or another country where he could be prosecuted for his crimes, however, the Bush administration only charged Posada--a man who once bragged to the New York Times about orchestrating a 1997 bombing campaign in Havana hotels and restaurants--with a single charge of entering the country without papers. He was ordered to be deported last September, but the Feds have delayed carrying out the order.

Now, says José Pertierra, a lawyer representing the Venezuelan government, there's a good chance that Posada will be set free

"From the beginning," Pertierra wrote on CounterPunch, "the Bush administration has tried to bury this man's bloody past and instead presents him before the law and public opinion not as the terrorist that he is, but as a simple undocumented alien that entered the United States without being inspected by an immigration officer. If the government is allowed to operate with this false major premise, he will be free within a few days. If Posada Carriles hits the streets, mendacity will have triumphed, as it did when the world was told that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."

Meanwhile, Carlos Alvarez, an associate professor at FIU, and his wife Elsa, who works at the school as a mental health counselor, were detained January 6 on charges that they were acting as "agents of a foreign power."

According to government officials, the couple--both of whom are naturalized U.S. citizens--sent information about the Cuban American community and U.S. and federal officials to Cuba's spy agency, using shortwave radios, coded messages and computer-encrypted files. But like so many of the Bush administration's national security prosecutions in recent months, the case against the couple has all the earmarks of a political witch-hunt.

FBI agents admit, for example, that there is no evidence the couple ever provided classified or defense-related information to Cuba--or received any money from the Cuban government.

According to prosecutor R. Alexander Acosta, the two are charged with passing information about the U.S. political situation, public opinion, prominent Cuban-Americans opposed to Fidel Castro's government and the name of at least one FBI agent.

The government claims to have proof of decades of illegal "activities"--including testimony in front of a U.S. Senate subcommittee in 1982 during which a law enforcement official accused Elsa Alvarez of providing private information about mentally ill patients at Jackson Memorial Hospital to the Cuban government. But if this is evidence of espionage, that means the federal government ignored two known Cuban spies for nearly 25 years.

In fact, government officials admit that the bulk of the "evidence" against the couple comes from voluntary statements they apparently gave to the FBI last summer.

At his press conference, Acosta blasted Carlos Alvarez for "betraying" the U.S. by leading exchange programs to Cuba, which were designed "to further manipulate and indoctrinate students." But the trips that Alvarez took were perfectly legal. He was hired by Puentes Cubanos--which seeks to foster closer relations between Cuba and the U.S.--as an expert in conflict-resolution techniques.

"Every time he traveled for Puentes Cubanos to Cuba, he did so completely legally, with a license from the Treasury Department," Silvia Wilhelm, executive director of Puentes Cubanos, recently told the Los Angeles Times. It wasn't until 2004, that Puentes Cubanos lost its license to organize trips to Cuba when the Bush administration clamped down on travel to the country.

According to Steven Chaykin, a lawyer for Carlos Alvarez, the couple are victims of a "McCarthy-like hysteria" fostered by the Bush administration. "The presumption of innocence has disappeared," Chaykin said. "There are serious and troubling questions about these charges--their timing and purpose."

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