Cuban Terror Case Erodes US Credibility, Critics Say





The decision Tuesday by a U.S. immigration judge in Texas to deny Venezuela's request to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, whom Caracas has dubbed "the Osama bin Laden of Latin America", was greeted with surprise and disappointment by Latin America activists and even some former U.S. officials. Venezuela wants Carriles to stand trial for the October 1976 bombing of a civilian Cubana Airlines flight that killed all 73 people aboard shortly after it took off from Barbados.

Venezuela's ambassador here, Bernardo Alvarez, accused the George W. Bush administration of using a "double standard" on terrorism. He said the White House and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which represented the administration before the court, "virtually" collaborated with Posada by failing to contest statements by one defence witness that Posada would be tortured if he were returned to Caracas.

"There isn't a shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela," said Alvarez, adding that "if we examine our respective records on torture, a prisoner is more likely to be tortured in the custody of the U.S. government than in the custody of Venezuelan officials".

Some U.S. officials, who declined to speak on the record, also deplored the decision by immigration judge William Abbott not to extradite Posada on the grounds that he could face torture in Venezuela.

"It's bad enough when the world knows that we're rendering suspected Islamic terrorists to countries that routinely use terror," said one State Department official. "But here we have someone who we know is a terrorist, and it's clear that we're actively protecting him from facing justice. We have zero credibility."


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