Panama releases anti-Cuba terrorists

Funeral for Eulalio José Negrín who was killed by anti-Cuban terrorists in 1979 for advocating normal U.S. relations with Cuba.

Photo: Courtesy Granma

Miami has rightly earned the reputation as a haven for the most dangerous Cuban counterrevolutionary criminals and terrorists.

Virtually all the officialdom there—from city and county government officials, to U.S. congresspeople, to judges, to the police department and other U.S. agencies like the CIA, FBI, university administrations, foundations and the media—are involved in either supporting, financing, arming or sheltering bombers and assassins, anyone who is en gaged in violence against the Cuban revolution. But none of this could flourish without Washington’s all-out support for anti-Cuba attacks.

Nothing is more evident of this fact than the heroes’ welcome given to three counter-revolutionary terrorists as they landed in the early morning hours in Miami on Aug. 26, at Opalocka airport, just hours after their release from a Panama prison.

The three men, Guillermo Novo Sampol, Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, and Pedro Remón, were released from prison the same morning. Outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso released them days before she was due to leave office. The fourth terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, is reportedly being hidden in a Central American country.

The Catholic Church in Miami was involved in the pardon of the four terrorists. In December 2002, the auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami, Augustín Román, wrote a letter to Moscoso asking for a pardon of the four.

Before vacating the presidency, Moscoso wanted to make sure that she did right by the U.S. government and George Bush, who will continue to provide favors to her. She is now living in Miami, undoubtedly part of her reward for pardoning the anti-Cuba terrorists.

Attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro

The three men who arrived in Miami, along with their ringleader, Luis Posada Carriles, had been in prison in Panama because they planned to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro in Panama in November 2000. They were found in Panama City after the Cuban president landed there on Nov. 17, 2000 to attend an Ibero-American Summit on Children. As he arrived, he announced to the international press that four anti-Cuba terrorists were in Panama to assassinate him. Castro had courageously gone ahead with his trip knowing there was a plot on his life. Cuban intelligence had been tracking the terrorists, and they were found with 33 pounds of C-4 explosives, detonators, and other weapons.

The four terrorists had planned to bomb the auditorium where Castro was set to speak. Thousands of students were there to hear him. Many hundreds could have been killed.

From day one of their arrests, it was clear the Panamanian government would cooperate with Washington to free those terrorists as soon as possible. Panama has been essentially under the control of the U.S. government since the 1989 U.S. invasion.

The four were tried in Panama, but were not indicted for attempted murder. Instead, they faced relatively minor charges of endangering public safety and false identification. Why? Because the judge said there was no evidence of attempted murder. The detonator had conveniently disappeared, and apparently the 33 pounds of explosives found was not evidence of attempted murder.

These terrorist defendants were convicted in April 2004, and were sentenced to only four to eight years, minus time served, putting them within months of release. Yet even before their sentences were up and their appeals concluded, the Panamanian president stepped in to free them, interfering with the country’s procedure on pardons.

On Aug. 22, Cuba published a declaration in Granma newspaper warning that Moscoso planned to pardon the terrorists. U.S. activists, acting in solidarity with Cuba, immediately issued a statement asking supporters to contact the Panamanian embassy and president to demand that the four not be pardoned. By this action the Cuba solidarity movement hoped to help expose the crime that was about to occur, building international pressure to stop the pardons.

But Moscoso acted quickly claiming she didn’t want the four to be extradited to Cuba or Venezuela, where they could face execution. Never mind that Venezuela has no death penalty, and Cuba promised Panama they would not apply the death penalty if the four were extradited to Cuban soil.

A history of terror

Who are the four who were given such praise in Miami?

The ringleader of the group, Luis Posada Carriles, has a long track record of terrorist attacks. He is perhaps most infamous for his work with another Miami resident, Orlando Bosch. Posada and Bosch orchestrated the bombing of Cubana flight 455 on Oct. 6, 1976. All 73 people aboard—including members of Cuba’s fencing team that had just competed in Venezuela were killed.

(Bosch was detained for 11 years in prison in Venezuela for the crime, although he was eventually acquitted and freed after the intervention of then-U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, Otto Reich. After serving his sentence, he ended up in Miami—the city that had named Mar. 25, 1983 as “Orlando Bosch Day.” In 1989, President George Bush, Sr. intervened to stop U.S. Attorney Joe Whitley’s attempt to deport Bosch to Cuba for his crimes.)

In 1997 several bombs exploded in Cuban hotels. Finally, after an Italian tourist was killed, a young Salvadoran man named Raúl Ernesto Cruz León was arrested by Cuban authorities. The bomber admitted that Posada paid him $4,500 for each bomb he placed.

In July 1998, Posada bragged to the New York Times that the money for those bombs came from the Cuban American National Foundation.

Cuban diplomat Felix Garc’a Rodr’guez was murdered at a traffic light in New York City on the sixth anniversary of Omega 7’s founding.

Photo: Courtesy Granma

Attacks against Cuban diplomats

Another of the four recently-released terrorists is Pedro Remón. He is closely linked with Eduardo Arocena, the founder of Omega 7, one of the most dangerous anti-Cuba terrorist groups. Under pressure by the FBI, Arocena revealed Remón as the trigger-man in two murders in New York and New Jersey.

One murder took place in Union City, N.J. Eulalio Jose Negrín, who advocated for normalization of relations with Cuba, was shot down outside his car in front of his son in November 1979.

On Sept. 11, 1980, the sixth anniversary of Omega 7’s founding, Felix García Rodríguez was gunned down in his car by a MAC 10 machine gun, as he was stopped at a traffic light in New York City. García was a Cuban diplomat assigned to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. Four other targeted Cuban diplomats escaped being killed when they got lost in heavy traffic.

Although extensive information links Remón to both murders, he has never been prosecuted for those crimes.

Earlier, on Mar. 25, 1980, Remón placed a bomb on the gas tank of Raúl Roa Kouri’s car. Roa Kouri was Cuban ambassador to the United Nations at the time. The bomb fell off the car, and the assassination attempt was unsuccessful.

Remón went to Canada in December 1980, where he and Ramón Sánchez were involved in the bombing of the Cuban consulate in Montreal. Although they were stopped and identified by the INS at the border, and the FBI started an investigation, Remón remained free to continue his terror attacks.

The other two thugs now welcomed in Miami have equally sordid histories. Gaspar Jiménez was seen near the scene of the 1976 bombing of Miami radio programmer Emilio Milian’s car, in which both of Milian’s legs were blown off. Milian was not a progressive or even a liberal. He used his radio program to attack the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro. But he had condemned a spate of bombings being carried out by the Miami counter-revolutionaries.

Guillermo Novo was implicated in the 1976 car bombing of Chilean activist Orlando Letelier and U.S. solidarity activist Ronnie Moffitt in Washington, DC. Letelier had been a diplomat in Salvador Allende’s progressive government in Chile until the 1973 CIA-backed coup drove him into exile. Novo was tried and found guilty for the bombing but was later acquitted on appeal.

U.S. government collaborates with terrorists

The terrorists released from Panama are hardly acting on their own. They have a well-established network of supporters in Miami and in the U.S. government.

Santiago Alvarez Fernández Magriña, closely connected with the Cuban American National Foundation, was reportedly closely involved with the Panamanian assassination attempt. French Canadian journalist Jean-Guy Allard described in a March 2001 article in the Cuban newspaper Granma that Alvarez had walked into a Miami Police Supply store to buy eight AK-47 assault rifles, 2000 rounds of ammunition and pistols. Those weapons were later intercepted by the Cuban border patrol in the hands of four men who were plotting to attack the Tropicana nightclub in Havana.

Santiago Alvarez is a wealthy businessman in Miami. In March 2004 he organized a public fundraiser for the terrorists on trial in Panama that reportedly raised $400,000.

He provided the private plane that flew them back to Miami after their pardon, as well as the plane that flew Luis Posada Carriles to an unknown destination in Central America.

The FBI is also complicit with the terrorists. In Miami, FBI agent Hector Pesquera has championed the counterrevolutionaries’ cause, attends their events, and embraces them on TV. He aggressively pushed for the railroading of the Cuban Five political prisoners, currently held in United States prisons. The Cuban Five were sent by Cuba to Miami in the early 1990s to put a stop to the unending terrorist attacks on Cuba.

Because they were effectively defending revolutionary Cuba, the U.S. government arrested the Cuban Five on Sept. 12, 1998, and falsely charged them with espionage conspiracy against the U.S. by infiltrating counter-revolutionary groups.

Today a worldwide movement exists to fight for their freedom. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five coordinates the movement in the U.S. This committee was instrumental in leading the campaign to expose Panamanian President Moscoso’s freeing of the terrorists as a capitulation to U.S. interests.

Activists outside the Panamanian Consulate in New York City after delivering a letter of protest over the release of anti-Cuban terrorists.

Photo: Bill Hackwell

U.S. ignores Cuba’s appeals

Over and over, Cuba has appealed to the United States government to stop the terrorists. Cuba fought for extradition of Posada and Bosch from Venezuela and Panama to no avail.

In 1992, the UN Security Council agreed to consider Cuba’s charge that the U.S. was harboring Bosch and Posada. That resolution never passed—hardly a surprise given the U.S. domination of the Security Council.

Time and again, Cuba has charged that these terrorists will attempt more bombings and assassinations. And the terrorism has continued.

In 2000, Posada, Novo, Jiménez, and Remón were arrested in Panama plotting to assassinate Fidel. Today they are once again in the bosom of the greatest terrorist in the world, U.S. imperialism. Is it any wonder that Cuba has to send agents to Miami? Or that heroes like the Cuban Five brothers will continue to operate in Miami discharging their duty to their people and the Revolution?

Worldwide solidarity with Cuba against terrorists

Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso’s decision to release four anti-Cuba terrorists provoked a wave out outrage around the world.

Street protests broke out in Panama City hours after the announcement. Panamanian left parties, trade union leaders and community organizations condemned the decision. Twenty-three Panamanian Indigenous students studying medicine in Cuba issued a statement saying, “We feel profound indignation for the deplorable actions of the sell-out Moscoso government.”

The governing Workers Party of Brazil and the Communist Party of Argentina condemned the move. Activists in Toronto held a demonstration against the terrorists’ release at the U.S. consulate on Sept. 12.

In the United States, Iraida Malberti—wife of one of the pilots of Cubana flight 455 that was bombed by Luis Posada Carriles—spoke at a press conference with Dr. Julio Yao, professor of law at the University of Panama, Andres Gomez of the Antonio Maceo Brigade in Miami, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Gloria La Riva of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, and Raúl Alzaga, whose friend Carlos Muñoz Varela had been murdered by anti-Cuba terrorists in 1977.

A delegation of activists delivered a statement to the Panamanian consulate in New York on Aug. 27 to protest Moscoso’s decision. Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation joined delegates from A.N.S.W.E.R. and the National Committee to Free the Five to present the statement.

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