By Saul Landau
Quien siembra vientos recogerá tempestades – Spanish proverb
He who sows winds will reap hurricanes (proverb translation)
Luis Posada Carriles, now in his 80s, has returned to Miami as a triumphant hero after an El Paso jury acquitted him of 11 counts of lying on an immigration form. Strangely enough, the Justice Department had presented evidence showing Posada had orchestrated a series of bombings in Cuba in 1997 – which killed one tourist.
Posada returned to Miami where he makes celebrity appearances at fundraisers. According to one U.S. official who requested anonymity, “Posada has become a colossal pain in the ass.”
The blowback syndrome has struck again. In the 1960s and early 70s, CIA officials worked intimately with Posada, but he didn’t mind making money from other three letter agencies. He planned terrorism and simultaneously informed on his collaborators. An October 14, 1976, CIA memo from Caracas reports that “a few days after a fundraising dinner Posada was overheard to say ‘we are going to hit a Cuban airplane’ [bombs exploded on Cubana 455] and that ‘Orlando [Bosch] has the details’.”
A November 26, 1976, CIA memo to the FBI stated, “Posada was also used as a source of information on Cuban exiles.” The memo affirmed, “Posada reported to the Agency and later to the FBI, on his involvement in and the activities of this group [RECE – Plan of the Cuban Exile Representation] and subsequently other Cuban groups with which he became affiliated.”
In my film “Will The Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” Ann Bardach (“Cuban Exiles Leader Among 7 Accused of plot,” NY Times July 13, 1998) concluded from interviews with national security officials, the Agency knew Posada planned to hit a Cuban airliner and didn’t try to stop it or inform the Cuban government. Three plus decades later, the U.S. government used its evidence about Posada’s terrorist activities to show he lied on an immigration form. Charging him with terrorism or deporting him to Venezuela to face trial for the airplane sabotage might have provoked Posada to reveal “family secrets.”
Justice officials wrung their legal hands. Geriatric right wing Cuban exiles hailed his triumphant return to the Autonomous Republic of Miami.
The tinny irony, however, grew into dangerous alloy. Posada raised money from rich Cubans who thought violence would bring them back to lost power and property on the island. The CIA and FBI paid him extra cash for ratting on his exile benefactors, like Jorge Mas Canosa.
Those honoring him deny he did the deeds they honor him for. As does Posada at one dinner said, “No comment,” to a question about the accuracy of accusations of his bomb-plotting. He then quoted General Antonio Maceo: “You don’t beg for freedom. You conquer it with the machete blade.”
Octogenarian supporters applauded. At their age they rarely refuse opportunities to eat, drink and celebrate -- anything.
On the island, Cuban viejos celebrated their victory at the Bay of Pigs. As the nation endured economic woes, leaders could at least toast happily to 52 years of disobedience to Washington.
They chuckled over Fidel’s successful “export Cuba’s enemies to the larger adversary.” Yes, some useful citizens also fled – but the mass exodus allowed Cuba to plant a fair number of state security agents (infiltrators) as well.
With CIA encouragement in the 1960s, violent anti-Castro Cubans became – and remain – a problem for U.S. society. Having aided and abetted terrorism, by training thousands of exiles in violence against Cuba, the CIA also legitimized terrorism at home.
In the 1960s, Agency-backed Cuban exiles carried out thousands of sabotage missions against their former homeland. Some tried to assassinate Fidel and became vocationally committed to such “work.” They also attacked their critics in Miami and elsewhere – with bombs and guns.
Nixon did not consider the toxic inconsistency that arose from this cultivation of terrorists. In 1971, the U.S. signed the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. Article 7 of that document states: “The Contracting State in the territory of which the alleged offender is found shall, if it does not extradite him, be obliged, without exception whatsoever and whether or not the offense was committed in its territory, to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.”
An exception appeared, however. In January 1965, Bosch had launched phosphorus bombs at a Cuban sugar mill. He explained to the press: “If we had the necessary resources, Cuba would burn in flames from one end to the other.”
In 1990, Orlando Bosch, Posada’s co-author of airplane sabotage, escaped prosecution in Venezuela by getting a Daddy Bush pardon – against strong advice from the Justice Department. Bosch, like Posada, gloats of his feats in Miami. In 1968, he fired a bazooka at a Polish ship in Miami Harbor; in 1976 he and Posada planned the downing of the Cuban airliner, killing 73.
On November 10, 2001, Baby Bush warned UN members: “Some governments still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken. The allies of terror are equally guilty and equally accountable.” But Bush and his Florida congressional backers didn’t mean Bosch and Posada – freedom fighters not terrorists.
Those human hurricanes left a trail of destruction in their wake – dead bodies of Cuban citizens. In 1961, CIA Chief Allen Dulles had warned President Kennedy about possible consequences that would accrue from aborting the Bay of Pigs invasion. The 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles in Guatemala would become “a disposal problem.” Now in their 80s, Posada and Bosch epitomize that predicament: don’t cultivate garbage unless you have a garbage disposal machine.
Saul Landau, an Institute for Policy Fellow, just finished WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP – a film available through cinema libre studio.