Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Looking back, this transfer of power was just procedural because President Bush himself transferred his powers to Vice-President Cheney this month when he went under general anesthesia for a colonoscopy. Its a right given to the President under the 25th Amendment.
Fidel Castro seems to be getting better now, but you couldn't have convince anyone of this a year ago.
Looking back at the local news coverage a year ago, many were convinced of something very dire. Sure, Fidel is old, but most of the news afterward painted a very grim picture. Remember the Negroponte quote from last December: "Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer... months, not years."
On July 31, one local news station had US Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart describing what some in Miami were thinking: "It's evident that Castro is either dead or dying."
Many were convinced that Fidel Castro was in fact dead. A Telemundo51 poll from August 2nd showed that 43% of viewers though Castro was dead, while 33% thought he was really ill.
On August 1, Maria Elvira Salazar hosted a special television program about the recent events. She surveyed her audience with an online poll and the results showed that 91% thought Fidel was dead. That's was based on viewers of MegaTV channel 22.
Many had made it clear: how could an ego-driven dictator relinquish power unless he is already dead? Any other alternative logic was suspended.
In my opinion, the phenomena that occurred in Miami that evening on July 31, 2006, only revealed the negative bias that still permeates this city on the Cuban issue. A simple transfer of power was immediately met with signs of death. Why would our thoughts expect anything else?
That's why I have great distrust in a lot of information that comes from Miami, especially when it is about Cuba. In Miami it is difficult to find a view that doesn't attribute the worst from a government that has no other face than that of a "perverse circus" as Lincoln Diaz-Balart once described it.
But, a year later, what have we learned?
- Phil Peters at the Cuban Triangle Blog has more thoughts.
- More Pics here at ViewImages.Com
[Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images]
Monday, July 30, 2007
Yep, it's gonna be a whole year since the celebrations in Miami that were sparked by Fidel Castro's "temporary" transfer of power to Raul. It was quite an exciting day, in the historical sense.
Here's some flashback posts from July 31/Aug. 1:
- USA Today Blog
-Miami's Cuban Connection
Will post more tomorrow.
[Photo by Al Diaz/Miami Herald]
Earlier this month the caravan made its way across the US and headed south to the US/Mexico border where they then flew into Cuba with about 90 tons (!) of humanitarian aid. In Cuba, they were also at attendance to see the first US medical students to graduate in Havana, under a scholarship administered by the the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO).
The whole experience has been documented on the Pastors for Peace Blog of the 2007 Caravan to Cuba. There's video and audio links, and plenty of photographs to look at.
Congrats to the IFCO. Read the blog at your leisure, and leave a comment or two.
Vanden Heuvel wonders about what could've been the result if former President Bill Clinton was bold enough to pursue unconditional talks with Iran at the time. "Might Iran have capped its nuclear program and cooperated with us in managing regional relations including the peaceful downfall of Saddam Hussein?" The Clinton administration, on the other hand, was pressured by many to maintain sanctions on Iran, despite the fact that Khatami was viewed as a moderate and elected by a large margin of Iranian voters.
According to reporter Laura Rozen, American isolationist policy relies on a simple logic: "[T]alking to rogue regimes and extremist groups... rewards or legitimates them, demonstrates appeasement, and therefore sets back U.S. security interest." This same logic applies to Cuba.
But, such logic becomes more complicated when isolationism is clearly seen as counter-productive, as in the case of North Korea, Iran, and its affected neighbors. In these cases, its fine to break from isolationism and have diplomatic talks (even though indirect), but there must be preconditions. Rozen quotes Joshua Muravchik, of the American Enterprise Institute, suggesting that the US should be "more threatening than supplicating" in talks with "rogue states" and that "if they want to talk to us, [then] there's a certain price of admission." This is the current state of US/Cuba relations.
In my opinion, there really isn't a difference with isolationism and conditional diplomatic relations. In both cases, obstacles still exist to take positive steps forward. And, most importantly, the US still assumes a position of a "threatening" nation in the eyes of the opposition.
Regional peace is a responsibility that all nations must share. Obama's break with isolationism is a positive sign, and shows that he is perhaps more willing to take responsibilities in achieving a stable region with partners in the Middle East, and perhaps in other regions.
According to a 2001 study on armed conflict, and published in the Journal of Peace Research, "[t]he complexity of conflict today makes it unlikely that there will be an easy or quick victory. It is equally likely that the parties will have to face each other at a table to negotiate peace or ceasefire. The parties should realize this before they unleash a war. After all, the potential solution available before a war may not be very different from those found after a war. But, of course, there will be less destruction, less human suffering and less chance of a future war."
This is a hard lesson that many nations in conflict have suffered, but there are hopeful examples to observe. Just last year, Maoist rebels in Nepal negotiated a peace deal with the Nepali government after pro-democracy supporters flooded the streets of Kathmandu. After ten years of fighting and more than 13,000 dead, both sides finally agreed to take steps forward for a new and peaceful Nepal. The rebel leaders have been accepted into the political process and their armies have been placed under international monitors. The people of Nepal now await national elections scheduled for November to finalize the peace process.
It is estimated that 65% of the population in Nepal will be eligible to vote by November, the first national election in eight years, and a country that is emerging from a long history of an authoritarian monarchy.
It is an inspiration, and a positive example that US/Cuba relations can follow.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Peters provides a good response to a report that seems to me flawed from the first few pages. I make some comments as well. Read at your leisure.
Fox News/AP reports today that Raul Castro's "provisional government took on further airs of permanence" with the absence of Fidel. Univision/AFP says that this is the "first time in 48 years" that Fidel has missed the Revolution Day festivities.
One source reported that "without Fidel Castro present, the mood [at the festivities] appeared somewhat subdued." But, another source said that "it was hard to find much disappointment that the elder Castro failed to show up." It has been estimated that 100,000 Cubans were in attendance for Raul Castro's speech.
Last month (June 4, 2007) I wrote about how Fidel Castro appeared in new photos and video, and how these events pointed out that Fidel Castro was in fact alive and getting better. I also mentioned Andy Gomez, a Senior Fellow at UM's Instiute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, and called him a "selfish academic." I actually regret that description because "selfish" is not the appropriate word to describe Andy Gomez's confidence in his work. The better word would be arrogant.
On June 4th, Andy Gomez appeared on the local station Telemundo51 for the 11pm news. Given that Fidel Castro had recently appeared with visiting Vietnamese officials and was scheduled to appear in a television interview, Andy Gomez made it very clear that Fidel would appear for today's Revolution Day festivities. To my recollection, he was very confident in his prediction.
This afternoon, Andy Gomez appeared again on Telemundo51 for the 11:30 local news program. His video segment did not mention the embarrassing prediction he made on June 4th, but instead Gomez went back to his old position that the post-Fidel era is "clearly marked" and that Raul Castro must win the hearts of all Cubans on the island or face a collapse.
It seems that many in Miami feel that Fidel Castro will not return to power. A recent Telemundo51 web poll (of more than 600 votes) showed that 87% of viewers thought Fidel Castro would not improve physically to return to power.
This is a sentiment that also seems to be taking hold in Cuba. "[Fidel's] getting older, and in poor health, he should let others continue with the Revolution," says one Cuban. "I am certain Fidel is recovering but there's no problem because we have Raul," says another in Camaguey.
Raul Castro today has (for the third time since last July) suggested that a dialogue begin with the US in a "civilized manner." He also proposed an "olive branch" deal to the future 2008 administration, or face another 50 years of Cuban opposition to US policy towards Cuba.
[Photo by Javier Galeano/AP]
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Frank quotes a Cuban saying: "We'll be waiting for him. If Fidel can't make it, who better than Raul to be here."
Looks like the prediction by UM's Andy Gomez is not going to happen. I will post more tomorrow.
It seems that Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama made a mainstream political no-no: unconditional dialogue with "rogue states" is forbidden. In Miami, this is a position that many are familiar with: the "hard-line" position towards the Cuban government.
So this is what happened on Monday's debate:
Question: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.
In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
Obama: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.
Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.
And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.
They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.
The following day, Hillary Clinton, the other leading Presidential candidate, was quoted describing Obama's comments as "irresponsible and frankly naive." At the debate, Clinton had a chance to respond to the same question, and so did candidate John Edwards. Both gave very similar responses: they support diplomacy, but cautiously ("to test the waters") in order to avoid negotiations "to be used for propaganda purposes" by our enemies. These comments by Clinton and Edwards are very revealing.
The response by Sen. Barack Obama was very brave, especially since the question clearly mentioned dialogue without preconditions. I hope he doesn't change his position, despite the future backlash from opponents. Obama's response showed that he understands well the psychology involved with current US hesitations for diplomatic resolutions, and the obvious drawbacks. On the other hand, the response by Clinton and Edwards revealed their apparent hesitations concerning what may be "the highest tasks of diplomacy" and the grim prospects for such a flawed position. The case of damaged US/Cuba relations have been partly the result of such indecisive politics.
Three writers from The Nation magazine made excellent points about Obama's comments: David Corn writes that Obama's comments will definitely come back to haunt him if he gets the Democratic Presidential nomination, and that his response lacked the "sophistication" of Clinton and Edwards, both of whom are more experienced in the "nuances, language, and minefields of foreign policy."
Ari Berman responds to Corn saying that despite the political experience of Clinton and Edwards, they both nevertheless "came down on the wrong side of the biggest foreign policy question of their generation" by initially supporting the Iraq War. Berman reminds us that "[e]xperience matters. But good judgement matters more."
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, adds her thoughts on how the Clinton and Edwards position is really no different than former President Bill Clinton's foreign policy and asks: "[W]hat did the [Bill] Clinton approach actually accomplish?" For instance, "[t]he respective regimes of Castro in Cuba and Chavez in Venezuela have only grown stronger, and more influential in Latin America." Vanden Heuvel believes that "Obama was signaling that the United States has the confidence in its values to meet with anyone. But he also signaled a certain humility" to engage with those deemed as "rogue states."
In my opinion, Barack Obama has certainly shown an important psychological value in addressing world conflicts, especially if he becomes President of the world's only Superpower: humility. It is an important value (even if not personally authentic) in the face of our neighboring countries whom deserve no more respect or any less from what we desire ourselves from them. It becomes an essential ingredient to addressing the most pressing issues that we may face in the future. Especially in the case of one of our closest neighbors, Cuba.
But, humility is also a value that has been ignored by US foreign policy for many years, with many negative consequences.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
They recount how they were again stopped at the US/Mexico border and their caravan inspected by US authorities. 12 computers were "detained." Pastors for Peace states:
"What [US authorities] are taking from us today is purely symbolic. They are trying to show us that they are in charge. But we know that we are the ones in charge, and that the people's power will prevail."
The blog is very interesting. Please read the past posts at your leisure.
According to Babalu Blog, Pastors for Peace are:
- "[B]leeding heart self serving liberal leftist moral equivalence spewing sorry excuses for human beings."
- "[I]diots, [and] knowing and willing accomplices to terror and tyranny."
Check the links and decide for yourself.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
In this morning's post, Val Prieto has encouraged his readers to deliver a "swift slap upside the head" to the director of the Smithsonian Global Sound website (part of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage), Daniel Sheehy, because of the recent discovery that Global Sound is selling an album called "Che Guevara Speaks" online. Mr. Prieto tells Sheehy:
"You will undoubtedly be recieving [sic] many emails today regarding this as I have written about this heartless affront on Babalu and will be forwarding this information to every single person, media outlet, government official, etc.. that will listen in the hopes that this murderer's words are lifted from your website."
Babalu readers have responded so far with:
- "Somebody's head needs to roll because of this foolishness."
- "These idiots keep pushing, and we need to push them back."
- "We need to put the che worshipers out of business!"
- "[T]he Smithsonian has become another player contributing to public ignorance by stamping a mark of approval on the Che myth, without any challenges."
- "I am sure the Smithsonian is not selling Hitler items or speeches from the Klu Klux Klan. Marketing Che Guevara is equally hateful and offensive. In the name of decency, please remove all items endorsing this mass murdering tyrant."
I hope the Smithsonian Global Sound will do no such thing, and clarify their real intentions and purposes for having the Che Guevara Speaks album on their website. It is pure ignorance to attribute an intentional insult on the part of the Smithsonian. Here's the background that has been ignored.
The album Che Guevara Speaks is but one album out of 50 released by Paredon Records between 1970 and 1985. Paredon Records is the result of "an unflinching commitment to co-founders Barbara Dane’s and Irwin Silber’s vision for social change. They worked tirelessly to release unapologetically partisan, radical, and passionate recordings of singers, activists, and visionaries who dared to dream of a better world."
According to Irwin Silber [PDF]:
"Paredon was a reflection of a period in which ideas of revolutionary upheaval were extremely prominent in the world... the rhetoric of the time, whether it was the Women’s Movement, the Black Movement, the Student Movement, was revolution...So that was the world cultural climate out of which Paredon came... what we were doing was documenting these movements and at the same time our approach was quite partisan, and very often the two were looked at as mutually exclusive categories. Well, if it’s propaganda it can’t be documentary and vice versa. But our view was that so long as the movements were real, their propaganda was also real. And documenting what you might (and I don’t use the word propaganda in a pejorative sense) documenting what was their genuine cultural, ideological expression was a way of undemonizing the so-called enemies of the United States."
In 1991, Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber donated the Paredon Records collection to the Smithsonian, which found its place at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), and then to the Global Sounds website. CFCH's mission is aimed at "promoting the understanding and continuity of diverse, contemporary grassroots cultures in the United States and around the world." Global Sound's mission allows its users to "discover and appreciate other people, other value systems, and other realms of human accomplishment."
"The revenue earned from sales of downloads and subscriptions supports the creation of new educational content and is shared with archival partners, who in turn pass on a portion of those revenues with artists and communities."
You can see the various musical and archival partners that Global Sounds supports on their website, which range from India to Africa, and Peru to Indonesia. And also see the various cultural activities that Global Sounds and the CFCH produce regularly, which include concerts of American, Asian, and Latino folk music, and also include workshops and exhibitions.
The other noble accomplishments of these institutions can be found on their websites, and I encourage readers to look at them if they have doubts about where their revenues go.
The Paredon Records collection belongs to the cultural history of the United States and is an important and valuable archive that rightfully belongs at the Smithsonian. Global Sound has provided the collection with all respect to its outlined mission, and should be encouraged to continue.
I hope readers will take the time to send Global Sound's director, Daniel Sheehy, a letter or e-mail of encouragement and support.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
What Fontova's blind faith fails to consider is that RARDE at the time had a history of "lies and deceit" documented well in high profile cases that occurred in the 70's, and that the forensic tests used at the time have been found to provide incomplete and inaccurate results.
In a 1993 conference paper [PDF] provided to the Australian Institute of Criminology ("Australia's pre-eminent national crime and criminal justice research agency"), Beverley Schurr summarized these "miscarriages of justice" by RARDE scientists.
She documents four high profile cases (The Birmingham 6, Guildford 4, Maguire 7, and Judith Ward) from 1973 to 1974, of which all guilty verdicts were eventually annulled by 1992 due to revelations "that the forensic scientists had failed to disclose relevant material favourable to the defence, that they gave evidence which was contradicted by some of their own test results and that their partiality affected all of the evidence that they gave."
Schurr focuses on two of the cases (The Maguire 7 and Judith Ward) that involved RARDE scientists (Mr. Elliott and Mr. Higgs) and how it was "found that they lied and suppressed evidence at the trials" and failed to disclose additional results of their forensic tests looking for traces of nitroglycerine.
Fontova writes that RARDE had "found traces of nitroglycerine, a component of commercial dynamite" in their forensic investigation of the 1976 Cubana flight bombing.
But, Schurr documents how in 1974 it was discovered that "the RARDE test was not exclusive for nitroglycerine" and that negative results were also withheld by the RARDE scientists and possibilities of contamination dismissed. And, this was only for one case.
In another (Judith Ward case), the RARDE scientists "suppressed evidence, wrote a misleading report, told deliberate falsehoods... overstated some test results, lied to a defence expert witness about the test results, went outside test guidelines to record a 'positive' test result" and committed other deceptions.
In the 1981 interview [PDF] with RESUMEN, Carlos Fabbri states that the flotsam examined by RARDE in 1976 was underwater for at least 16 hours and tests showed "strong" indications for nitroglycerine. Its important to note that Fabbri himself did not conduct the chemical tests for nitroglycerine. And, RARDE was found in 1974 of overstating and lying about their nitroglycerine results. But, more importantly to us, the RARDE scientists lied "that there was no other substance which could mimic nitroglycerine results" when in fact they knew that "dyes in shoe polishes and other commodities could produce a positive [Thin Layer Chromatography] test result."
Just like Fabbri, a RARDE scientist (in the Maguire 7 case) boasted of "a reasonably high level" of nitroglycerine results, when in fact an independent inquiry later found that his confirmatory tests were negative.
In fact, the recovery process for nitroglycerine was still being perfected in the 80's, even by RARDE scientists.
The acquittals and annulments of these high profile cases renewed investigations into the effectiveness of Thin Layer Chromatography in the 70's. It also further deteriorated the public's faith in the criminal justice system, the majority of whom believed the future was still grim.
It serves Humberto Fontova's defense to present RARDE as "the most authoritative source on earth" in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, and leave readers ignorant of the realities about forensic science and RARDE's questionable history. In my opinion, Fontova is another propagandist, like Enrique Encinosa, at the service of Luis Posada Carriles.
I ask myself why. My best guess is that Luis Posada Carriles still represents the archetypal hero to some Cuban exiles, and thus his noble identity becomes an essential and necessary ingredient to the personal collective identity one wants to present: made of honor and sacrifice. And, thus must be defended at all costs, even at the expense of the facts.
Sure, we all need heroes to look up to and memorialize, to strengthen our cultural values with, but we also need to re-examine where our cultural values stand in this world.
Otherwise, how will we know when new heroes stand up to the world.
Even a 40-page legal summary [PDF] authored by Luis Posada's attorneys makes mention of Carlos Fabbri as an integral part of the forensic team with Erick Newton. Also, at the trial, Carlos Fabbri was questioned for about two and half hours. According to the legal summary and interviews with Fabbri, Erick Newton's signature appears on the forensic report along with Fabbri's.
Suspicions arise about Carlos Fabbri's involvement because of his alleged close association with Luis Posada Carriles and his assignment to join Erick Newton's independent investigation. According to a 1980 interview [PDF] in ELITE magazine, Fabbri states that he was appointed by the Venezuelan administration with permission of the President. Fabbri says that the person who approached him was J.J Patiño González, a former director of the secret police allegedly involved in the death of a well-known communist leader of the 60's: Alberto Lovera.
When asked why he was picked, Fabbri's first response was: "Bueno, no se, quizas la amistad, el respeto que me unía con el doctor Patiño Gonzalez." (Well, I don't know, maybe by acquaintances, the fact that I visited with doctor Patiño Gonzalez.)
In another interview [PDF] conducted in July 1981 for a magazine called RESUMEN, Fabbri confidently stated that "our expert findings [about the Cubana flight bombing] are a scientific fact and a forensic truth that simply rejects any challenges it finds; it simply invalidates definitely by the scientific method any contrary assertions."
But, recent discoveries about the negligence and scientific errors by the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) during the 70's may shed light on how the forensic evidence may not be the "truth" or, as Fontova puts it "overwhelming, authoritative, and conclusive."
Monday, July 16, 2007
For those who wish to know more about this horrible event can check two very thorough reports by:
- Amnesty International: The Sinking of the "13 de Marzo" Tugboat on 13 July 1994.
- (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Victims of the Tugboat "13 de Marzo" vs. Cuba.
Approximately thirteen years ago, on July 13, 1994, 72 Cubans emigrating their island nation, on a dilapidated tugboat named "13 de Marzo", were confronted at sea by Cuban authorities who proceeded to ram the stranded tugboat and use water cannons. 41 lives were lost.
According to Amnesty International:
"While acknowledging that those on board the '13 de Marzo' had committed a crime by stealing the tugboat, there is no evidence to suggest that they were armed or that they were in a position to offer any serious resistance to the pursuing vessels. Indeed, from many of the survivors’ accounts, it appears that their pleas to surrender and to be rescued may have been deliberately ignored. Amnesty International has therefore concluded that at the very least the force employed by the pursuing vessels to prevent the departure of the '13 de Marzo' was disproportionate to the nature of the crime, especially taking into account the risk to the lives of those on board the '13 de Marzo' who included women and children. The Cuban authorities have argued that those on board the pursuing vessels were dock workers acting on their own initiative and not government or law enforcement officials. However, several of the survivors have doubted this assertion and have alleged that the whole operation appeared to be coordinated and directed by radio from a coast guard vessel. The Cuban coast guard service falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior. Amnesty International believes that there is sufficient evidence to indicate that it was an official operation and that, if events occurred in the way described by several of the survivors, those who died as a result of the incident were victims of extrajudicial execution."
The Cuban government has stood firm in denying any responsibility for this event, and has also failed to conduct an impartial investigation in the face of international condemnation.
One of the most disappointing aspects of this event is the how the Cuban government and its information sources reported the incident:
"On 14 July 1994, the day after the tragedy, Granma, the official Communist Party newspaper, in an article entitled 'Capsized Tugboat robbed by Anti-Social Elements' described what happened as an 'irresponsible act of piracy promoted and stimulated by counter-revolutionary radio stations, the most reactionary elements of the [Cuban exile] nest of maggots in Miami, and by the well-known failure of the United States to abide by migration agreements.'"
This is language more suited for Saturday nights on Radio Mambi.
There are few words to say about such horrendous events, especially when there are powerful obstacles to find the truth.
"Speaking to the broken and the dead is too difficult for a mouth full of blood. Too holy an act for impure thoughts. Because the dead are free, absolute; they cannot be seduced by blitz. To speak to you [...] I must not claim false intimacy or summon an overheated heart glazed just in time for a camera. I must be steady and I must be clear, knowing all the time that I have nothing to say-no words stronger than the steel that pressed you into itself; no scripture older or more elegant than the ancient atoms you have become."
"The Dead of September 11"
By Toni Morrison
Written September 13, 2001
July also happens to mark another great tragedy.
On July 3, 1988, a US Navy warship Vincennes in the Persian Gulf shot down an Iranian civilian passenger jet (Iran Air 655) after apparently mistaking it for an F-14 fighter.
Of the 290 passengers and crew killed, most were pilgrims heading toward Mecca. Iran said that the radio signals of the aircraft could not be mistaken for a fighter jet, and that "[t]he tragic downing of the passenger aircraft was only an example of the many crimes committed by the American Government against the Iranian people."
More facts here and here.
This post is dedicated to all innocent men, women and children who have died mercilessly and whose relatives have not yet seen justice.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
"... almost all the evidence was ruled inadmissible. It was really stunning. All the police reports from Trinidad, the confessions of Ricardo and Lugo, all the reports out of Barbados, every shred of evidence that was extraordinarily compelling was ruled inadmissible on of the grounds of, guess what? They said, 'Well, the interviews were done in an English-speaking country,' even though there were, you know, certified Spanish language translators involved at all times. So they threw out the file -- so there was no evidence. So once you got a judge to declare it inadmissible, what was there to try Bosch [or Posada] on? So, not surprisingly, he did win an acquittal. And I found that one of the more interesting points, because you hear this endlessly in Miami, how he won an acquittal."
But, let's examine the evidence that was left to the judge, and supported by Fontova.
THE ROYAL ARMAMENT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ESTABLISHMENT
So, some of you might be asking: but didn't Ricardo Morales Navarrete confess to the 1976 bombing? And, thus, Fontova (or Posada) isn't totally wrong to blame Morales, right?
Correct, Fontova is partially right to blame Morales, but the evidence he provides doesn't add up.
The centerpiece to Fontova's defense lies with the examination of the forensic evidence by the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment (RARDE). RARDE was part of several defense establishments in the UK , which in 1991 together became the Defence Research Agency, and has gone through many changes over the years.
RARDE provided the results of their scientific examination of the Cubana flight wreckage (what was found floating) to the Venezuelan courts. According to Jay Ducassi*, reporting for the Herald, the "controversial 1980 verdict that acquitted Miami Cuban militant Orlando Bosch in one of history's most deadly plane bombings was strongly influenced by a British expert's investigation of the explosion."
The British expert in question was an aeronautics engineer named Erick Newton who was an investigator of aerial accidents for the British Royal Air Force. A man who definitely seems qualified (with 33 years of experience in this department) to investigate the Cubana flight bombing. But, it is not known how many bombing investigations he has done in all his years, unless bombings are frequent in the Royal Air Force.
But, what Fontova forgets to mention (also Ducassi) is the fact that Newton was not alone in his investigations, he had help. And how odd that his help came from a former subordinate of Luis Posada Carriles when Posada worked for the Venezuelan intelligence agency DISIP.
Carlos Fabbri was chief of DISIP's Explosives Department under Posada for two years, and an expert in the field of explosives (with an impressive resume). In a 1980 interview with a publication called ELITE, Fabbri said that he knew Posada was his boss, but only knew him by sight and never met him.
According to a declassified FBI document, a "confidential source who has furnished reliable information in the past" said that "Fabri [sic] and Posada Carriles are good friends and that [both] had actually been arrested a couple of years ago by Venezuelan authorities after it was learned they provided false documentation and explosives to Dr. Orlando Bosch Avila in Venezuela at that time."
*[The Miami Herald, May 15, 1983, "Bosch's Acquittal Hinged on British Expert's Views" by Jay Ducassi.]
"The 'Cuban-American crackpot!' (Posada defense lawyers') version has the explosive device planted in the baggage compartment of the plane at the instigation of a Castro double-agent named Ricardo Morales Navarette [sic] while on a previous stop in Guyana."
Fontova then adds that the forensic evidence at Posada's trial supports this theory. He's correct about the support from the forensic evidence, but the theory blaming Ricardo Morales Navarrete comes from only ONE source: Luis Posada Carriles. According to Posada's book, Los Caminos del Guerrero (Paths of the Warrior), in Chapter 13 Posada recalls the day that Ricardo Morales privately confessed to him, with tears in Morales' eyes of course, and a repentant embrace.
According to Luis Posada Carriles, before Ricardo Morales confessed he made sure to scan the room for hidden microphones. How lucky for Morales and Posada. Also, remember that Posada has his secret double-agent from Cuba alleging that Morales planned the bombing with Cuban agents, described by Posada in Chapter 11.
Hardly credible evidence for any honest person to believe, but of course we are talking about everyone's favorite columnist Humberto Fontova who has taken the bait, and its all downhill from here.
"OVERWHELMING, AUTHORITATIVE, AND CONCLUSIVE" EVIDENCE
According to Fontova, Judge José Moros González obviously had the best evidence at hand to acquit Luis Posada Carriles. Not only did the judge acquit Posada in 1980, but also Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo, both of whom were later charged and found guilty in 1986 after the annulment of this case.
So, why were Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo found guilty later? Easy, the decision in 1980 left out evidence that was later admitted to the decision of 1986. According to Jay Ducassi from the Miami Herald*, the first court had ruled important evidence as inadmissible:
- Statements by [Freddy] Lugo to police in Trinidad that he believed [Hernan] Ricardo had placed the bomb in the airplane bathroom.
- A statement by Lugo to Venezuelan intelligence officials that Ricardo boasted of the bombing during a flight back to Trinidad.
- Statements from Barbados police that [Hernan] Ricardo had called Orlando Bosch after the bombing. Referring to the call, Lugo said Bosch 'was the chief who gave Hernan instructions to place the bomb,' according to the police.
- Ricardo's alleged confession to Trinidad deputy police chief Dennis Ramdwar. 'He said that he was telling me this in the greatest confidence, that Lugo and he had put the bomb in the plane,' Ramdwar testified.
- Ramdwar's statement that Ricardo said he phoned Bosch from Barbados to report on the bombing.
Those confessions and statements can be found at the National Security Archive. From the confession by Freddy Lugo [PDF], and the sworn statement [PDF] by the Chief of Police in Barbados, to the confession [PDF] that implicates Bosch and Posada.
But, of course, this isn't important to Humberto Fontova. He demands hard evidence, unless it comes from Luis Posada Carriles of course.
*[The Miami Herald, May 15, 1983, "Bosch's Acquittal Hinged on British Expert's Views" by Jay Ducassi.]
Monday, July 9, 2007
According to Fontova, the "Castroite propaganda apparatus (and its ever-faithful media and think-tank auxiliaries from London to Madrid to New York to Washington D.C.)" have presented a negative picture of a man who has dedicated himself for many years to noble American causes. One example Fontova mentions is the Reagan administration's mission to "crush communism in Nicaragua by arming and training Nicaraguan Contras." This noble cause that Luis Posada Carriles helped with was found by the International Court of Justice to have violated several international laws. The judges sided with the nation of Nicaragua and accused the US of "unlawful use of force." Nicaragua calls it terrorism.
Anyway, Fontova says that we should "cut Mr. Posada some slack."
But, what's important here is the defense that Fontova presents for us. Not surprisingly, Humberto Fontova doesn't mention the FBI investigations currently underway involving Posada Carriles and the bombing campaign against Cuban hotels in 1997. But, instead we are reminded that "the accusations against Posada Carriles regarding the  plane bombing have already had their day in court."
Fontova makes three arguments for Posada's "innocence" based on the findings that led to the acquittal of Luis Posada Carriles in 1980:
1) "The evidence examined by Venezuelan judge José Moros González in 1980 to declare Posada totally innocent was so overwhelming, authoritative, and conclusive...";
2) "Among this evidence was a 200-page report from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory of Britain's Royal Armament Research & Development Establishment, (ARDE) considered the most authoritative source on earth for investigations of this kind";
3) "Finally, there is already a confession to the plane bombing of which Carriles is accused. It comes in the form of deposition in Dade County’s 11th Judicial court dated April, 5 1982—and it’s from a Castro double-agent named Ricardo Morales Navarette."
No, I'm not gonna criticize Fontova for misspelling Navarrete, but rather examine a principle that Fontova describes in his article. He states that:
"The intervening half-century witnessed many events [from Cuba] that might have prompted mainstream journalists and commentators to be a tad careful when accepting [the Cuban] regime's press releases at face value, right?"
Mr. Fontova is correct. All journalists and commentators should question their sources (no matter their origin), but its unfortunate that Humberto Fontova himself does not follow his own advice. Instead, Fontova has easily accepted the allegations which come directly from Luis Posada Carriles himself. Let's review.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Last Sunday (July 1, 2007), Michael Moore (director of the recently released documentary Sicko) appeared in an interview aired on Sunday's political news show This Week in South Florida, hosted by local and respected journalist Michael Putney. Since this is Miami, Putney quickly turned the discussion towards Cuba. (The issue of Cuba appears for the last 22 minutes of Moore's 2-hour documentary)
Putney acknowledges that Cuba's healthcare system is free to all Cuban citizens, but then asks Moore if he believes Cubans pay a "high price" for that service since Cuba suffers from many kinds of internal repression.
In my opinion, this question falsely assumes that both Cuban healthcare and systematic repression in Cuba are correlated in some fashion, and that somehow Cubans are intentionally choosing to "pay" this "high price." It's an absurd logic that falsely suggests Americans have CHOSEN to pay the "high price" of a "War on Terror" for increased security. (One recent poll shows that Americans think the war in Iraq is "going badly" and that "all troops" should be removed.)
Anyway, before Moore gave a complete answer, Putney went ahead to elaborate (as if he was running for office) and basically said that Cubans have no freedoms whatsoever. It would've made Lincoln, Mario and Ileana proud.
But, Putney fumbled and Moore intercepted. In a zealous attempt to put Moore in his place for filming in Cuba, Putney, listing accurately many violations of freedoms, said that Cubans don't have freedom of religion. Moore quickly rebutted by stating that he had seen many open churches and a Synagogue while in Havana. Putney immediately knew he had made an error and tried to recover by stating that Cuba had made improvements over the years in respect to religious freedoms. But, Moore had already made his point to correct Putney that his comment was fallacious. Putney 's interview ended on this embarrassing note.
Since 1992, when Cuba's constitution added Article 8 stating that the Cuban government "recognizes, respects and guarantees freedom of religion", the island nation has made many gestures to include religious freedoms for its citizens.
One article states that since 1991 the number of churches and house churches in Cuba has increased from 1,100 to 16,000.
Annual reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch no longer report on violations of religious freedoms in Cuba. The last mention that Human Rights Watch gave to Cuba stated that:
"Despite some limits on freedom of religion, religious institutions and their leaders were granted a degree of autonomy not granted to other bodies. Several religious-run groups distributed humanitarian aid and carried out social programs. The authorities did, however, continue to slow the entry of foreign priests and nuns, limit new church construction, and bar religious institutions from running schools (although religious instruction was allowed). In contrast to the first decades after the Cuban revolution, discrimination against overtly religious persons was rare."
This was from their 2003 report covering events from 2002.
Obviously, Putney made an error to suggest that Cubans have no freedom of religion. He was probably thinking about China or Saudi Arabia. So, why did he say it?
Recent news from Cuba even focused on the religious freedoms that many Cubans enjoy. Earlier this year, the Episcopal Church named the first ever female Bishop (Nerva Cot Aguilera) in Latin America to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Havana.
Also reported recently, the "largest shipment of Children’s Christian material in Cuba’s history" was allowed into the island, revealing the growing membership within the Christian movement and its relationship with the Cuban government to "help in educating the youth and combating the country’s drug problems."
And, let's not forget about the Jews of Cuba.
There's no doubt that there are some limits that still exist in a nation that recently made a change to grant freedom of religion. But, even those limits that the US State Department reports are small. The US eventually admits that "[t]here were no reports of persons being detained on religious grounds." And, that "[t]he relationship among religious groups in general was amicable, and organized religious groups were widely respected in society."
But, in Miami, where many people easily accept that Cuba is Hell on Earth, even the most respected of journalists can give in to the falsehoods.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
*[Luis Posada Carriles was at the time a private investigator who was a former chief of Venezuela's civilian security police DISIP (Dirección de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención).]
This is what El Nuevo Herald reporter Gerardo Reyes wrote in his July 26, 1991 article about his interview with Osmeiro Carneiro. A story that Enrique Encinosa has erased from memory.
Carneiro's allegations, like Diosdado Diaz's, are based on confessions by Ricardo "El Mono" Morales from another interview which was video-taped by reporter Francisco Chao Hermida.
Carneiro recounts to Gerardo Reyes that "in 1982, the late journalist Francisco Chao Hermida asked [Carneiro] to accompany him to Miami and be a witness to an interview with Morales." According to Carneiro, both men travelled to Miami and stayed in a newly inaugurated Holiday Inn on Brickell Avenue where they interviewed Morales on camera. It was there, according to Carneiro, that Morales confessed about the conspirators of the 1976 bombing, which included Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Garcia. The three of whom where members of what Carneiro and others knew at the time as the "Gang of Death." But, there is controversy within the confessions to Osmeiro Carneiro and Diosdado Diaz.
According to Luis Posada Carriles, from his book Los Caminos del Guerrero (Chapter 13), Francisco Chao Hermida came back from his Miami interview saying that Ricardo Morales "has recounted interesting things about the bombing of the Cuban airplane and that [Morales] is prepared to tell them to [Posada's] lawyers." One of Posada's lawyers, Raymond Aguiar, immediately flies to Miami and conducts another video interview with Ricardo "El Mono" Morales where he repeats what he supposedly told Francisco Chao Hermida.
According to Luis Posada Carriles, Morales confessed to knowing that the bomb on the Cubana flight was initially placed in Guyana; that the bomb was made of dynamite placed in the baggage compartment of the plane; and that the bomb was originally timed to kill everyone including Hernan Ricardo and Freddy Lugo before they stepped off the plane in Barbados. The motivations for this plan were not revealed.
The contradictions begin here.
- El Nuevo Herald (Alfonso Chardy and Oscar Corral) viewed the 1982 Morales video-taped interview with Francisco Chao Hermida and reported in May 9, 2005 that "El Mono" Morales pointed to Gustavo Castillo, instead of Luis Posada Carriles, as the one who prepared the bomb for the Cubana flight. This contradicts the confessions to Detective Diosdado Diaz and the recollections of Osmeiro Carneiro, both of whom heard that Luis Posada Carriles was involved.
- Morales' confession of the use of dynamite contradicts sworn statements in Operation Tick-Talks of the use of C-4 to blow up the Cubana flight. C-4 being the most popular explosive used for such operations, and involved with prior usage by Luis Posada Carriles and Ricardo Morales.
But, there are ways to make sense of all this.
1) You can believe Detective Diosdado Diaz, who is a more than 20-year veteran officer in Miami, and Osmeiro Carneiro, who was also a more than 20-year veteran of Venezuelan military intelligence, when they say that Luis Posada Carriles was definitely involved in the 1976 bombing (which also supports the declassified evidence and other allegations involving Orlando Garcia), or...
2) You can believe Luis Posada Carriles' secret double-agent who told him that Cuban agents paid Ricardo "El Mono" Morales Navarrete $18,000 to kill 73 innocent people just to continue smearing Miami Cuban exiles and momentarily justify internal Cuban government repression, or...
3) You can dismiss ALL the testimony and alleged confessions by Ricardo "El Mono" Morales, and then realize that ALL the defenders of Luis Posada Carriles (Encinosa, Byrne, Fontova and others) have been deceiving you.
Notice that the final scenario has no defense for the declassified documents on the 1976 bombing (excluding those using Ricardo Morales as a source), and the 1997 bombing campaign against Cuban hotels which is currently being investigated by the FBI, and has Luis Posada Carriles as a prime suspect.
It's up to you to decide.
In my opinion, the defense of Luis Posada Carriles by those mentioned above is nothing more than an exercise in propaganda. Enrique Encinosa, for more than 10 years, has repeated lies about Osmeiro Carneiro and Ricardo Morales. From his 1994 book, Cuba en Guerra (p.280-283), to his 2004 book, Unvanquished (p.124-126), Encinosa has used the July 15, 1991 Osmeiro Carneiro news brief and Luis Posada's book as his only two sources.
Currently, Enrique Encinosa is the news editor at Radio Mambi.
But, there are other important defenders for Luis Posada Carriles.
Humberto Fontova and Robert Alonso.
 El Nuevo Herald, July 26, 1991, "Congreso Venezolano Investiga a Cubanos" by Gerardo Reyes.
Beginning in 1980, Morales had become a state informant for a Miami narcotics investigation called Operation Tick-Talks which eventually led to 53 arrests. Among those arrested were "veteran dealers, respected business people and the politically well-connected."
For three weeks in 1982, Morales testified under oath to "two attempted murders, gangland bombings, political terrorism, narcotics dealing and a role in the destruction of an airliner in which 73 persons died."
"In a ninth-floor office in the Metro Justice Building, Morales was questioned under oath by [Attorneys] Douglas Williams, Ed Carhart and Kirk Munroe for more than three weeks, with Williams asking most of the questions. Lasting more than 75 hours, the sessions produced nearly 1,000 pages of transcripts."
What is important to us is what exactly Ricardo Morales confessed to concerning the 1976 bombing.
"Morales said he helped provide anti-Castro terrorists with the explosive for the bomb."
According to deposition copies found here and here, Morales says he was "part of the conspirators." Specifically, "surveillance of the regular flights of that Cuban Air Force plane*, providing by a third party the explosives."
*[Morales believed that the Cubana airplane was a Cuban Air Force plane in disguise.]
But, there's more that Morales allegedly confessed to.
According to a El Nuevo Herald article from May 9, 2005, the lead detective of Operation Tick-Talks, Diosdado Diaz, said that Morales "stated to him in 1982 that [Morales] supplied the explosives and that [Luis Posada Carriles] prepped them to bring down the plane."
Diosdado Diaz at the time was a veteran to the Special Investigations Section in Miami, the city's anti-terrorism agency. In 1981 he had been selected as December's Officer of the Month.
Before Ricardo Morales was extensively questioned by attorney Douglas Williams, Diosdado Diaz had already questioned Morales. "Douglas Williams recalls that it was the detective [Diosdado Diaz] who confirmed for him in a lengthy deposition that Morales, as chief of counterespionage for Venezuela, had played a role in the Cubana Airlines bombing."
It is in this deposition that Morales claims Luis Posada was involved in the 1976 bombing. Unfortunately, according to the 2005 Herald article, "Diaz says he wrote a report for the Miami police on Morales' confession, but the record could not be found."
How fortunate for Luis Posada Carriles.
But, there is ANOTHER person who also says that Ricardo "El Mono" Morales confessed to Posada's involvement in the '76 bombing.
The Miami Herald, October 3, 1982, "Errors Lead to Tick-Talks Toss-Out" by Eric Reider.
The Miami Herald, June 1, 1982, "Terrorist Admits Bombings and Two Attempted Murders" by John Katzenbach.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
According to Enrique Encinosa's latest book, Unvanquished: Cuba's Resistance to Fidel Castro, "[a] key player in the [1976 Cubana flight bombing] was Ricardo (Monkey) Morales"(p.124). According to Hugo J. Byrne, another defender of Luis Posada Carriles, Ricardo Morales was the "central figure" in the 1976 bombing. Also, everybody's favorite columnist, Humberto Fontova, believes that Ricardo Morales is the confessed terrorist of 1976, which absolves Luis Posada Carriles by default.
ALL the defenses that I have read so far claiming innocence for Luis Posada Carriles have blamed the notorious Ricardo "El Mono" (the Monkey) Morales Navarrete. In my opinion, it is one of the most successful propaganda exercises to vindicate Luis Posada Carriles of the bombing in 1976. But, if one actually READS what Morales Navarrete confessed to, you will see that Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles are not innocent at all. Let's review the facts.
"According to testimony under oath by Morales Navarrete, the Castro conspiracy originated in Mexico... [where] Morales Navarrete met with Castro agents of the DGI [General Intelligence Directorate] who gave him $18,000 and summarized a plan to blow up a Cuban airplane and destroy Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, who would be blamed for the attack."
This is the premise of Enrique Encinosa's theory that places "El Mono" Morales at the center of a Cuban government conspiracy designed to "accuse [Miami] exiles [for the 1976 bombing] and defend itself from accusations of systematic violations of human rights." But, Encinosa is lying again. Ricardo Morales Navarrete never made such statements under oath. These are allegations made by Luis Posada Carriles himself.
In 1994, Luis Posada Carriles wrote a book titled "Los Caminos del Guerrero" (Paths of the Warrior). One of the book's main goals was to let Posada tell HIS side of the story when he was arrested in 1976 for the bombing of the Cubana flight, and recount the events that occured afterward. In Chapter 11, Posada provides HIS theory on who really committed the bombing. Its the same theory that Encinosa provides in La Verdad sobre Posada.
According to Posada, the theory blaming "El Mono" Morales is based on three sources:
- Interviews with Ricardo "El Mono" Morales by Posada's former lawyer, Raymond Aguiar, and by journalist Francisco Chao Hermida, on different occasions.
- Posada's own interview with a secret double-agent inside the Cuban government and allegedly involved in the 1976 bombing.
- Independent investigations of the '76 bombing that where financed by Posada's lawyers.
If you notice, Posada never mentions that his theory is based on the sworn testimony of Ricardo Morales in a Florida court. That's because Morales never said it.
The theory stating that Ricardo "El Mono" Morales received payment from Cuban agents to blow up the Cubana flight originates from Posada's secret double-agent, NOT Morales.
In a Miami Herald interview with Posada, dated May 17, 2005, Luis Posada Carriles specifically tells the Herald that "a spy inside the Cuban Embassy in Caracas told him that Morales had been working for the Cuban government after its agents paid him $18,000 at a Mexico City hotel in early 1976."
Of course, there is no way to verify if this theory is true. How convenient that Posada's double-agent is still undercover.
However, its clear that Luis Posada Carriles never mentions that his theory is based on the sworn testimony of Ricardo Morales in a Florida court as Enrique Encinosa suggests. Yet again, Encinosa is lying.