Date: Mon, 20 Jul 98 20:25:12 CDT
From: MichaelP <email@example.com>
Subject: Posada: "I'll kill Castro if it's the last thing I do"
Posada: "I'll kill Castro if it's the last thing I do"
By Edward Helmore in Miami, London Observer,
Sunday 19 July 1998
They tried bombs, they tried poison, they even tried exploding cigars.
For more than 30 years, Cuba's President Fidel Castro has been a
nagging thorn in America's side, a Communist leader who has outwitted
successive US administrations and the efforts of the powerful Cuban
exile community to topple him.
But, according to an elderly Cuban dissident in hiding in South
America, US-backed attempts to overthrow Castro have never ceased,
despite Washington's protestations to the contrary.
Luis Posada Carriles, 70, a legend among militant Cuban exiles, still
aims to kill Castro. His greatest dread is that his Communist
adversary might survive him. If his story is true, it is an indictment
of both the Cuban American National Foundation, the lobbying group
that has steered America's stated policy to end Cuba's Communist rule
by peaceful means, and of the US government, whose active support of
efforts to overthrow Castro were thought to have ended in the early
Sixties after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion and five
subsequent CIA-sponsored attempts on Castro's life.
It appears that the passionately anti-Communist civic leaders of Cuban
America have been pursuing a clandestine foreign policy which has been
overlooked by Washington either wilfully in the interests of political
expediency or due to incompetence.
Posada, from his hideaway thought to be in El Salvador, has led a
shadowy life of armed subversion working for the CIA and the FBI - as
well as for Venezuelan, Salvadorean and Guatemalan intelligence - "to
fight against the Communists, the people who helped Cuba".
He is a veteran of the Bay of Pigs, the 1976 bombing of a Cuban
airliner, Oliver North's Iran-Contra operation, numerous assassination
attempts on Castro and a concerted campaign to destabilise the
In a series of interviews with the New York Times, he claimed
responsibility for a series of bombings at hotels and nightclubs in
Cuba last summer in which an Italian tourist died and scores more were
injured. He said his activities were directly supported by Jorge Mas
Canosa, founder of the Cuban-American National Foundation, who died
last year. Mas Canosa, a powerful force in Florida and US national
politics by virtue of prodigious donations to parties, maintained
personal friendships with presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.
Mas Canosa and the foundation, says Posada, donated more than $200,000
( 126,000) to his subversive campaign. "Jorge controlled everything.
Whenever I needed money, he said to give me $5,000, give me $10,000,
give me $15,000 - and they sent it to me."
Posada intimated that the foundation's public policy of non-violent
opposition to Castro was a fiction. When asked if he acted in much the
same way as the IRA does for Sinn Fein, he said, laughing: "It looks
Reports have linked Posada to last summer's bombings. He says US
authorities knew of the plot, but made no effort to question him, a
convenience he attributes to his longstanding relationship with the
intelligence services. "The FBI and the CIA don't bother me, and I am
neutral with them," he said. "Whenever I can help them, I do."
The CIA denies any relationship with Posada "in decades". An FBI
official said the agency "does not now have, nor have we ever had, a
longstanding relationship with Posada". But declassified files support
Posada's assertion that both agencies had detailed knowledge of his
operations against Cuba from the early Sixties to mid-Seventies.
Moreover, Antonio Alvarez, a Cuban-American businessman in Guatemala,
says he tipped off Venezuelan security forces and the FBI about a plan
to assassinate Castro at a conference of Latin heads of state in
Venezuela last year. He told them that two of his partners and a man
fitting Posada's description had acquired Mexican military explosives
and detonators. The Venezuelans expelled anti-Castro demonstrators.
Shortly before the meeting, the captain of a boat boarded by the US
Coast Guard off Puerto Rico said he was on a mission to kill Castro.
US agents found the boat was registered to an executive of the
Cuban-American National Foundation, and one of the guns on board was
registered to its current chairman, Abel Hernandez.
But the FBI in Miami showed no interest in Alvarez's information. They
told him his life was in danger and that he should leave Guatemala.
Posada says the agent who called Alvarez was 'a very good friend', a
claim the agency denies. "I think they are all in cahoots - Posada and
the FBI," Alvarez said. "I risked my life and my business and they did
The Cuban government regards Posada as a terrorist and a "monstrous
criminal" and has often called on the US to rein in his activities. In
Guatemala in 1990, Posada was hit by a dozen bullets, fired, he says,
by Cuban hitmen. The shots shattered his jaw and tore through his
tongue, requiring reconstructive surgery which was paid for by
Yet The New York Times' claim that Mas Canosa and other foundation
leaders funded Posada's terrorist acts has brought threats of legal
action from the organisation. The paper has stood by its story, saying
its account was based on more than 100 different sources in North and
Latin America and FBI files on Posada and Mas Canosa.
"The article is full of lies and we consider it to be false and
defamatory information," Ninoska Perez Castellon, director at the
foundation's headquarters in Miami said yesterday. "Posada is not a
credible source, he has contradicted himself on many occasions and he
is a fugitive from justice."
Posada did indeed contradict himself almost immediately, telling a
Spanish-language television reporter that the Times report was
"completely false" and that neither Mas Canosa nor the foundation
leaders had ever sent money. "I am an independent man. I don't
represent the armed wing of any organisation," he said.
But such is the murky world of Cuban-American affairs that when the
foundation produced the tape of the interview on the same day it was
conducted it aroused suspicions of a relationship between the
foundation and Posada, or between the foundation and the Miami
television reporter. Moreover, a spokesman for the station initially
confirmed that a foundation member was present at the interview.
Castellon said: "Where is the proof? [Posada] could be financed by
friends or the Cuban government because it suits their purpose to
blame the Cuban exile community. He could even have been paid by The
New York Times which has a marked agenda on Cuba."
Copyright Guardian Media Group plc.1998