Radio Mambi is, of course, reporting the recent release of Osvaldo Mitat, who was arrested in 2005, along with Santiago Alvarez, for possession of illegal weapons. Both also had suspected ties to Luis Posada Carriles.
In November 2005, after a federal raid of a Broward County apartment complex owned by Alvarez, ATF agents found "a thousand rounds of ammunition," several automatic weapons and explosives. According to the Miami Herald, "Judge Andrea Simonton refused to release the pair because their mere possession of automatic weapons, grenades and rounds of ammunition amounted to a 'crime of violence' and posed a danger to the community."
According to the arrest affidavit: "Following his arrest, Mitat made a spontaneous statement to a uniformed police officer... He told the officer... 'Unfortunately, you guys are doing your jobs and we got caught with a bunch of guns. I love the United States and would never do anything to hurt this country. These guns were not meant to be used against this country."*
Mitat and Alvarez were eventually sentenced to serve 37 and 46 month in prison respectively, but their sentences were then reduced two months ago after more illegal weapons were surrendered to the federal authorities. The June arms surrender included "over 14 pounds of plastic explosives, 200 pounds of dynamite, 4,000 feet of detonator cord, 30 semiautomatic and automatic weapons, one grenade launcher, and two handmade grenades, among other items." According to one report, it was "several grenades."
A related story also revealed that the US Coast Guard found weapons in the Bahamas connected to Alvarez. "Documents say Santiago Alvarez allegedly helped plan and pay for an 'armed incursion' in 2001 against the Cuban government."
Today, Armando Perez-Roura said that all the weapons found were aimed "para combatir ese régimen" (to combat that regime). Ziva from Babalu Blog believes Mitat and Alvarez were "brave patriots" who were furthering the "declared goal of spreading democracy."
Santiago Alvarez is scheduled to be released by the end of this year.
Cuban news outlets are reporting that "three officials includ[ing] ex Minister of Government and Justice Arnulfo Escalona, ex National Police Director Carlos Bares and ex assistant director of Migration Javier Tapia" are being charged in Panama "for breaking the law in releasing international terrorist of Cuban origin Luis Posada Carriles [in 2004]." Specifically, charges of "abuse of authority."
Luis Posada Carriles and three other men were pardoned in 2004 by Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso (who now has a home in Key Biscayne, Florida). She believed that "if they stayed [in Panama], they would be extradited to Cuba and Venezuela, and there they were surely going to kill them there." Posada was serving a sentence in connection to a thwarted assassination plot against Fidel Castro in 2000. The US denies having any influence over President Moscoso's decision. But in Panama, "speculation was rampant that the Bush administration, indirectly or not, had pressured [the] Panamanian President." The current President of Panama, Martin Torrijos, at the time "said he disagrees with the pardons."
Cuban American National Foundation President, Francisco Hernandez, said that the 2004 pardon was "a victory for all those in exile, and a triumph of justice, beyond the strategy adopted to bring democracy to Cuba."
[*]Miami Herald, November 22, 2005, "Posada Allies Denied Release" by Oscar Corral and Jay Weaver.