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Let Cuba Live
April 2009 Cuba Update
Prosecutors indict Posada on criminal charges
By Tom Whitney
A grand Jury in El Paso handed down an 11 point indictment April 10 against Luis Posada, superseding an earlier desultory prosecution for alleged immigration fraud. As a sign Washington may be serious about dealing with Posada as murderer and saboteur, the action buoyed up hopes that Posada might be extradited to Venezuela or tried for murder in the United States.
The indictment overlooks Posada's central role in the 1976 bomb attack on a Cuban airliner, killing all 73 people aboard. Nor does it cite arrangements he made for hotel bombings in Havana in 1997 and the explosion tearing apart the Copacabana night club that killed Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo.
Posada's lies to investigators as to how he entered the United States in March 2005 led to a trial in May 2007 on immigration fraud. But Federal Judge Kathleen Cardone, citing prosecutorial incompetence, called that trial off, and Posada went home to Miami. Cuban émigré Posada, later a citizen of Venezuela, had served in the U.S. army and worked for the CIA.
An immigration judge had earlier refused to deport Posada to Venezuela to complete judicial proceedings aborted by his CIA-assisted escape from jail there in 1985. The judge relied upon the testimony claiming Posada would be tortured there. That the single witness was a former Posada business associate and collaborator within Venezuela's intelligence service was kept from the judge. Had Posada been convicted of immigration fraud, he would only have been deported. Bush administration pleas failed in recruiting a country willing to accept him.
During immigration interviews in 2005 and 2006 Posada falsely denied knowing or assisting Raul Cruz Leon, the El Salvador hit man convicted in Cuba of carrying out the Havana bomb attacks almost 12 years ago. Allegations of perjury and obstruction of U.S. investigation of international terrorism form the bases for new criminal charges against him.
Posada will enter a plea in El Paso on April 17. Jury selection for a new trial begins on Aug. 10. Free on $350,000 bail until then, he has been ordered to steer clear of violence-prone Miami colleagues who may serve as trial witnesses.
The indictment is unrelated to an ongoing New Jersey grand jury investigation into allegations that Cuban-Americans there funded Posada in El Salvador as he organized attacks on Havana. Speaking at a telephone news conference, Jose Pertierra, Venezuela's attorney in Washington, saw that investigation as possibly leading to his future prosecution for murder. (See yahoo.group/CubaNews/message/99979)
Jose Pertierra commended the Obama administration for a "wonderful first step" in linking Posada to international terrorism. He added, however, "you don't simply say that he lied … You have to follow up [which] means that they have to indict Posada Carriles for the murder of Fabio di Celmo."
Livio di Celmo spoke to reporters, emphasizing the power of available evidence demonstrating Posada's responsibility for his brother's murder. He referred to a 1999 UN report on the Havana bombings and declassified U.S. documents made available by the National Security Archives of George Washington University.
A New Orleans federal appeals court issued a ruling last year, backed by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, that prosecution on immigration fraud should resume. For whatever reason, however, prosecutors upped the ante.
"A criminal prosecution of Posada is severely hobbled," Ann Louise Bardach wrote in the Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2006. That investigative reporter disclosed that the Miami FBI office in 2003 "made the startling decision to close its case on Posada." It discarded evidence. FBI head at the time there was Hector Pesquera, who earlier had directed the FBI investigation of the Cuban Five.
Livio di Celma had a tip: "The five Cubans that are in jail in the United States for having infiltrated these terrorist organizations … are the ones that could testify very well about the terrorist acts that have been going on against Cuba since 1959."
Open Letter to Canadian Prime Minister Harper from Filmmaker Isaac Saney
Issac Saney was in Maine last month, giving presentations in and around Brunswick under the auspices of the Brunswick - trinidad Sister City Association. We reproduce here the letter he wrote recently as Co-Chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba to the Canadian Prime Minister.
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
The April 17-19, 2009 Summit of the Americas in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago represents a potentially historic moment in which a most regrettable page in the relations amongst the nations of the Americans can finally be turned. The Summit represents an opportunity when the Canadian government can engage in the enlightened statecraft that the times require. By standing with the overwhelming majority of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, you can uphold the fundamental principles and norms of international law by insisting: 1. The United States end its illegal and immoral economic sanctions against Cuba; 2 Cuba is included in this and future Summits; and 3. Cuba is unconditionally re-admitted to the Organization of America States.
Latin America and the Caribbean are united in this just stand. This stand also reflects the sentiment of the vast majority of the people of Canada. Canadians irrespective of their political or ideological positions, stand in favour of building relations of genuine friendship with the island nation: relations based on mutual respect and equality that uphold Cuba's right to self-determination and sovereignty. Having traveled to Cuba in the hundreds of thousands and having witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, Canadians have come away with a profound respect and admiration for the Cuban people and their efforts to build and defend a society centered on independence, justice and human dignity.
Filmmaker Isaac Saney, presents “Sisters’ and Brothers’ Keepers” in Maine
By W.T. Whitney Jr.
A highlight of this year's Cuba Week celebration by the Brunswick-Trinidad (Cuba) Sister City Association was the visit of Canadian academic and Cuba activist Isaac Saney, who lectured at area colleges and previewed his documentary film, "Sisters' and Brothers' Keepers: Cuba and Southern African Liberation."
Under the Association's auspices, Saney discussed Cuba before an Africana studies class at Bowdoin College and with Latin American history students at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. He also spoke to an audience of community and college people in Brunswick, about Cuba's long struggle for racial justice.
He also showed "Sisters' and Brothers' Keepers" to area people interested in Cuba. The film will soon be available in DVD form.
Saney's visit was part of a weeklong series of cultural and entertainment events marking the sister city group's annual celebration of "Cuba Week." The Maine Cuba solidarity group Let Cuba Live helped to arrange the visit.
Through interviews with participants and depictions of military action, Saney's film demonstrated Cuba's central role in blocking apartheid South Africa's destabilization campaign against newly independent states along its northern border. The rebuff of South African forces in the late 1980s shattered that country's regional military dominance and contributed mightily to Namibian independence and the unraveling of the apartheid South African regime.
Three central themes recurred throughout Isaac Saney's presentations.
Cuba's 1959 revolution was seen as a culmination of struggles for national independence and social justice which intensified during the second half of the 19th century and revived periodically throughout subsequent decades when Cuba languished under U.S. hegemony. Saney specially emphasized the role of Jose Marti, who joined national liberation, rights for all, and Latin American unity into a single revolutionary stream.
Saney also highlighted the struggle for racial justice as central to Cuba's revolutionary process, evidenced by slave revolts during the 19th century, ex-slaves fighting the wars for independence, and Jose Marti's dedication to the cause of Black people.
Saney identified internationalism, and particularly Cuba's outreach to Africa, as the hallmark of the Cuban revolution. In his film and in discussions, Saney presented material confirming the crucial role 300,000 Cubans soldiers, medical doctors and teachers played in fighting apartheid. From 1975 through 1991 they joined with African peoples to overcome a racist military machine long supported by northern industrial powers. South African propaganda at the time and historians since have covered up the significance of the 1987 victory of Cuban soldiers at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola that sent South African troops home. Some 2,000 Cubans died in Southern Africa.
"Saney's passion for Cuba and its attempt to forge its own way to communal prosperity and social justice is shiningly clear," George Elliott Clarke said in his review of Saney's book "Cuba, Revolution in Motion," published in 2004.
Isaac Saney teaches history at Dalhousie and St. Mary's Universities, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has recently been named co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba.