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U.S. Should Deport Posada, Seek Castro's Terrorists

By Andres Oppenheimer

May 19, 2005
Copyright © 2005 MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

Let me start by stating it in unambiguous terms: If the Bush administration fails to deport suspected Cuban exile terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, it will make a mockery of its war on terror.

Now that I got that cleared up, let's move on: Once the suspected terrorist is deported, the Bush administration should turn a potential propaganda disaster into a public relations victory by launching a diplomatic offensive demanding that Cuban president-for-life Fidel Castro deport the hundreds of internationally wanted terrorists, airplane hijackers, cop killers and bank robbers he knowingly harbors on his island.

Let's look at the facts. Following publication of The Herald's exclusive interview with Posada Carriles in Miami earlier this week and his subsequent arrest on Tuesday, the Bush administration can no longer look the other way. Earlier, U.S. officials had claimed they had no knowledge about the 77-year-old suspected terrorist's whereabouts.

Posada Carriles, you may recall, has been linked to the 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Aviacion passenger jet in which 73 people were killed and to 1997 bombings in Havana in which an Italian tourist was killed. In his Herald interview, Posada Carriles denied that he was involved in the aircraft bombing -- despite U.S. official documents that suggest otherwise -- but didn't disown the Havana bombings. He said, ``Let's leave that to history.''

Castro and his closest ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, have turned Posada Carriles' presence in Miami into an international propaganda feast. On Tuesday, Castro led one of his state-organized 1 million man marches in Havana under the banner of ''Down with Terrorism!'' exhibiting the pictures of the dead civilians and painting the United States as a hypocritical country that happily supports terrorists when they act against its enemies.

What should the Bush administration do now? Very simple: Deport Posada Carriles either to one of the countries from which he made his illegal entry into U.S. territory -- including Panama, Honduras, Guatemala or Mexico -- or to Italy, where a judge might put him on trial for the Italian tourist's death.

The minute Posada Carriles is put on a plane to another country, President Bush should expose Cuba as a Club Med for international terrorists and demand a United Nations investigation into Cuba's habit of not only giving safe haven to international terrorists but treating them like heroes.

This is the kind of speech President Bush should give:

``Dear friends, as you know, we have just deported Mr. Posada Carriles. We have refused to send him to Cuba or Venezuela, where he would have faced kangaroo courts, but we have sent him to a democratic country, where he will be granted a fair trial under an independent judiciary.

``Now, I urge you to demand Cuba to act accordingly and arrest and deport the 77 terrorists and other lawbreakers wanted by the United States who are being protected by the Cuban regime, as well as the hundreds of others wanted by other nations on charges of international terrorism.

``I'm talking about people like Joanne Chesimard, a Black Liberation Army member who was given safe haven in Cuba after she escaped from a maximum security prison in New Jersey in 1979, and who -- unlike Mr. Posada Carriles -- is a convicted murderer.

``She has been convicted for the 1973 killing of Woerner Foerster, a New Jersey trooper who had stopped her car because of a broken taillight. Only a few days ago, Castro defended Chesimard at a public rally, portraying her as a victim of racial discrimination in the United States.

'I'm talking about people like Victor Manuel Gerena, a member of Puerto Rico's Macheteros' terrorist group, who is on the FBI most wanted fugitives list in connection with a $7 million bank robbery in Connecticut.

``I'm talking about dozens of members of Spain's ETA terrorist group, best known for its deadly car bombs on crowded street corners, who have been given safe haven in Cuba, as well as terrorists from Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces [FARC] and National Liberation Army [ELN] who are protected in Cuba under the official justification that they belong to ``national liberation movements.''

POST SCRIPT: Some U.S. news networks and The New York Times have suggested in their reports that Posada Carriles is seen as a ''hero'' and a ''freedom fighter'' by Cuban exiles in Miami. That's sloppy reporting. No doubt that Castro would like that to be the case and embarrass Cuban exiles in the eyes of the world. But from what we've seen here so far, there's no evidence of a groundswell of support for Posada Carilles.

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