Wayne Smith’s Editorial in the Sun Sentinel 02/22/11

Case Against Luis Posada Carriles Takes Welcome Turn
by Wayne Smith, senior fellow and director of CIP’s Cuba Program

Astonishing! And just when many of us were convinced that the trial of Luis Posada Carriles was simply a farce. After all, wasn’t the U.S. government just trying this arch terrorist for perjury, for lying about the way he entered the United States (illegally of course), leaving aside his myriad terrorist activities?

But no. U.S. prosecutors have now presented evidence of terrorist acts he committed against Cuba, and in Cuba. He’s still not being tried for terrorism; rather, he’s accused of having lied about it. But the result may well be the same. If he’s convicted, he’ll spend a long time in jail. And the conviction will be tied to his acts of terrorism.

Even more incredibly, much of the evidence is being presented by Cuban officials invited by the United States to testify against him. This is really a first.

Posada Carriles is accused on three counts of perjury related to a series of bombings against various Cuban hotels between April and September of 1997, resulting in the death of an Italian tourist. He lied about them, and the United States intends to prove that the bombings, in fact, took place.

One of the key Cuban witnesses is Major Roberto Hernandez Caballero, who was involved in the investigation of the hotel bombings back in 1997. And there are two other Cuban witnesses, a forensic doctor and another police investigator.

This is a case we will all watch with fascination. A first of its kind, so to speak.

Posada Carriles is of course an arch terrorist, who is believed to have been involved in plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, in the downing of a Cubana airliner with the loss of 73 lives back in 1976, and in various other acts of violence. And in most of those past episodes, he is thought to have had the sympathy if not the active support of various U.S. agencies.

If he is now brought to justice by representatives of the U.S. government, it may suggest that a new, and prouder, day has dawned.

Wayne Smith served as Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1979 until 1982 and since then has been on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, involved in Cuban affairs. Since 1992 he has also been Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C. , where he directs the Cuba program

One thought on “Wayne Smith’s Editorial in the Sun Sentinel 02/22/11

  1. Harry Blaney February 23, 2011 / 4:07 AM

    Foreign Affairs seem each day to get a bit more crazy than the last day and the swift shifts in events, and in policies are hard to follow. This is true in the Middle East as much in Latin America. Wayne Smith has indicated his wonder at these turn of events.

    This American trail case is one of those. If we trust the Cuban officials to give honest testimony, yet do not permit full travel and trade with Cuba and denounce the Cuban regime as authoritarian can we trust its officials to give truth before an American court?

    Our relations with Cuba have been on a downward trajectory for a long time with some small positive steps that are reversed by negative actions. Clearly our efforts at isolation and hostility have not change for the better the lives of Cuban citizens, nor brought democracy to that nation.

    We have set our policies towards Cuba in a narrow prism. Frankly, the behavior of our relations with China, a country every bit as authoritarian as Cuba has been so much more myopic and counterproductive. Regarding China we has been much more varied and careful and carefully directed so much more toward true engagement with not only the government but also with the peoples and more successful in getting at least some cooperation. We ventured a bold step under the Nixon administration. The outreach to China resulted finally in full recognition which enabled us to have serious discussions on critical issues and enabled us to have significant trade between our two countries.

    With Cuba none of this more creative and bold approach took place. Perhaps this is another example of the need for rethinking our national security policy toward Cuba – and soon!

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