Luis Posada Carriles

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Luis Posada Carriles (born February 15, 1928) is an anti-Castro Cuban émigré who is alleged to have been involved in numerous violent terrorist plots, including hotel bombings and the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Flight 455 in which seventy-three people were killed. He has also been involved in Operation Condor, namely in Orlando Letelier's murder in Washington, D.C., a few weeks before Cubana de Aviación's explosion. Posada has lived in Venezuela, where he became a naturalized citizen and served in its political police; and the United States, where he served in the army and developed a relationship with the CIA. In April 2005, Posada sought political asylum in the United States. Venezuela has formally requested Posada's extradition,[1] as has Cuba [2], however a DHS judge ruled that he cannot be deported because of threat of torture in Venezuela. [3]. With Guillermo Novo Sampoll, Orlando Bosch and Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, he founded the Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU)[4].

Image:Luis Posada Carriles.jpg


Militant career

Posada was born in Cienfuegos, in southern Cuba, in 1928. According to declassified FBI memos [5] regarding Posada and other Cuban militants, Posada worked as a supervisor for the Firestone Rubber Company in Cuba. He immigrated to the United States in 1961, served one year in the US Army, then continued separate military training with anti-Castro exiles in Florida. He was also on the CIA payroll from the 1960s until 1974. [6] During that time, Posada was involved in numerous covert international anti-communist operations, many of them in his role as an explosives expert. For example, Posada was involved in a heavily-armed conspiracy to overthrow the government of Guatemala, [7], and a plan to blow up Soviet or Cuban ships in Mexico. [8]

Posada immigrated to Venezuela, becoming a naturalized Venezuelan citizen and joined DISIP, the Venezuelan secret police which has had links with operation Condor, where he was an explosives expert and eventually a senior official.

On September 21, 1976, former chilean minister Orlando Letelier was killed by a booby-trapped car in Washington, D.C.. Michael Townley, a former CIA agent who worked for Pinochet's DINA, confessed that his superiors had ordered him to kill Letelier, and that he had recruited five anti-Castro Cuban exiles to help him in the case [9]. The Miami Herald has reported that a United States Federal Prosecutor who prosecuted the assassination of Orlando Letelier placed Posada at a planning meeting where both the Cubana bombing and the Letelier assassination were decided upon. According to the Herald, Posada denies attending the meeting, while Orlando Bosch states that Posada was there, but neither the bombing nor the assassination were discussed. [10] According to Jean-Guy Allard, Michael Townley decided with the CORU leadership, including Luis Posada Orlando Bosch that those elected to carry out the murder were Cuban-Americans José Dionisio "Bloodbath" Suárez, Virgilio Paz Romero, Alvin Ross Díaz and brothers Guillermo and Ignacio Novo Sampoll.

On October 6, 1976, two weeks after Orlando Letelier's assassination, a Cubana Airlines plane travelling from Barbados to Cuba was blown up, killing all 73 passengers aboard. He has also been involved in operation Condor, namely in Orlando Letelier's death a few weeks before Cubana Flight 455 blowing up. Two employees of Posada's private security firm in Venezuela were found guilty of having planted the bombs and served 20 years in a Venezuelan jail. Posada himself, along with Orlando Bosch, were indicted and acquitted of treason. The prosecution's appeal was upheld by a higher military court, which determined that the men should have been tried in a civilian court, rather than the military tribunal, thereby nullifying the acquittal. An October 14, 1976 CIA Information Report describes a fundraiser that occurred in Venezuela just before the plane was blown up: "A few days following the fund-raising dinner, [Luis] Posada was overheard to say that, 'We are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details.'" According to the report, the source for the information was "a former Venezuelan government official...[who] usually a reliable reporter." [11]

In 1985, Posada escaped from a Venezuelan jail where he was being held pending a new trial in the Cubana bombing, becoming an international fugitive. He found work supplying arms to the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras.

In 1990, Posada survived an assassination attempt while in Guatemala, the New York Times has reported, leaving him with a shattered jaw. He recuperated in El Salvador, he told the Times, on the budget of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF). The CANF denies any connection to Posada.

Posada organized a string of bombings at luxury hotels in Cuba in 1997 in order to discourage the growth of the tourism industry there. One Italian tourist died in the bombings. Dissatisfied with world press coverage regarding the incidents, Posada gave a long and candid interview to the New York Times in 1998, discussing his methods and associations at length. [12]

In 2000, he was convicted with Gaspar Jiménez, Pedro Remón and Guillermo Novo Sampol of conspiring to assassinate Fidel Castro during a regional summit in Panama. The four were subsequently pardoned by Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso in the final days of her administration in 2004. Jiménez, Remón, and Novo were admitted into the United States.

Seeking asylum in U.S.

On April 13, 2005, Posada requested political asylum in the United States through his attorney. He had entered the country illegally across the Mexican border. On May 3, the Venezuelan Supreme Court approved an extradition request for him. Speaking the same day in Washington, D.C., State Department Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega stated that Posada might not have been in the United States. Noriega added that charges against him "may be a completely manufactured issue." However declassified FBI and CIA reports show that the agencies suspected his involvement in the airline bombing within days of its occurrence.

On May 17, 2005 the Miami Herald conducted an interview with Posada in South Florida; later that day, the Herald and the Associated Press reported that he had been detained by the Department of Homeland Security. He had withdrawn his asylum appeal and was moving to sneak out of the country when arrested. His arrest presents diplomatic problems as his extradition is sought by both Cuba and Venezuela, neither of which are close U.S. allies. His arrest coincided with large anti-Carriles protests in Havana - organizers estimated that hundreds of thousands of Cubans participated in the rally. At this time, Carriles is being held by U.S. immigration authorities in El Paso, Texas, on charges of entering the country illegally — Posada's immigration case had a hearing before a Homeland Security judge in Texas on August 29, 2005, had another on September 26, and is awaiting a judge's decision by October 10 [13] [14]. On September 28th a US judge ruled that Posada cannot be deported because he 'faced the threat of torture in Venezuela'. The Venezuelan government reacted angrily to the ruling, accusing the US of having a "double standard in its so-called war on terrorism". [15]

The Venezuelan Government wants to retry Carriles for his role in the 1976 airline bombing. The Cuban government wants to try him for the hotel bombings, but has agreed that extraditing him to Cuba's ally Venezuela would be acceptable, not least because Venezuela has had an extradition treaty with the US since 1922, but Cuba does not. The United States denied Venezuela's extradition request, citing a lack of evidence. Some have questioned this decision since then as clear evidence of a double standard policy by the United States. Moreover, Cuba has suspicions that Posada's terrorist actions were backed and organized by the CIA [16].

At the XIVth Ibero-American Summit in Salamanca, in october 2005, the final declaration includes a demand to "extradite or judge the responsible of the terrorist blowing-up of a plane of the Cubana-aviation in October 1976, which caused the death of 73 innocents civilians" [17].

Personal life

According to declassified FBI documents, Posada has been married at least twice and has a son, Jorge.

When Posada appeared in court in July, 2005, he had bandages from an operation for facial skin cancer. Now 77, he is reported (September, 2005) to be ailing.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^  The National Security Archive, a non-governmental organization, has a large collection of declassified United States government documents regarding Posada's relationship with the United States. This 1965 FBI memo gives an overview of Posada and his early life.
  4. ^  This 1966 FBI document is one among many in the collection to describe Posada's relationship with the United States, stating that Posada at that time received $300/month from the CIA, and was being considered to head a military alliance against Fidel Castro and the Cuban government.
  5. ^  The list of ammunitions surrendered to U.S. customs in the FBI document, also released by the National Security Archive, extends across a four-page document.
  6. ^  From
  7. ^  From
  8. ^  Allegations against Posada grow, Miami Herald, May 22, 2005. Accessed from on June 6, 2005.
  9. ^  The New York Times ran a long series of articles on Posada, described below. Facts here were drawn from A Mastermind Reveals Some Key Secrets.

External links

Articles and reports

Spanish language websites

Further reading


  • Bardach, Ann Louise and Larry Rohter. A Bomber's Tale: Decades Of Intrigue; Life In The Shadows, Trying To Bring Down Castro. New York Times. Monday, July 13, 1998. Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 1 , Column 3. Abstract available online. Retrieved May 17, 2005.
  • Bardach, Ann Louise and Larry Rohter. A Bombers Tale: Taking Aim At Castro; Key Cuba Foe Claims Exiles' Backing. New York Times. Sunday, July 12, 1998. Late Edition - Final, Section 1 , Page 1 , Column 1. Abstract available online. Retrieved May 17, 2005.
  • Bardach, Ann Louise and Larry Rohter. A Bomber's Tale; A Cuban Exile Details The "Horrendous Matter" Of A Bombing Campaign. New York Times. Sunday, July 12, 1998. Late Edition - Final, Section 1 , Page 10 , Column 1. Abstract available online. Retrieved May 17, 2005.
  • A Mastermind Reveals Some Key Secrets. New York Times. Sunday, Jul 12, 1998. p. 10 Retrieved June 6, 2005.


  • Bardach, Ann Louise. Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana. 464 pages. Vintage, October 14, 2003. ISBN 0385720521. [Chapter 7 contains Posada interview]
  • Bardach, Ann Louise. Cuba Confidencial. Spanish Edition. 544 pages. Plaza y Janes, September 28, 2004. ISBN Posada Carriles

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