Newly declassified CIA documents concerning alleged terrorist Luis Posada Carriles has provoked some interesting reactions.
Blogging for the Miami New Times, Tim Elfrink is finally relieved to say that "[Jorge] Mas Canosa [the late Cuban exile leader] believed in terrorism." Elfrink seems relieved for two reasons: 1) the newly declassified documents prove Mas Canosa funded terrorist operations during the mid-60s; and 2) therefore, Elfrink can't be sued for making such a statement.
But, are the new CIA documents really proof that Mas Canosa "believed in terrorism"? You might have to dig a bit deeper to make such a statement.
These CIA documents only confirm FBI documents declassified in 2005 revealing that Jorge Mas Canosa, working for an organization called RECE (Representacion Cubana en el Exilio/Cuban Representation in Exile), paid Luis Posada Carriles $5000 on June 25, 1965, to complete a "demolition operation in Mexico" involving "100 pounds of C-4 explosives." The new CIA documents shockingly reveal that Luis Posada Carriles was the actual informant that the FBI documents gives credit to. But, the documents, which solely rely on Posada's word, don't say that Posada carried out the operation.
Yet, if we consider other facts that have been revealed over the years, we get a better picture of the Posada/Mas Canosa relationship.
In the early 60s, Posada and Mas Canosa met at Fort Benning, Georgia. Stationed there, Posada "received instruction in demolition, propaganda and intelligence," while Mas Canosa "graduated as a Second Army Lieutenant." The FBI and CIA documents, based on Posada's own admissions, reveal the early partnership of both men in organizing terrorist operations aimed at Cuba.
In interviews published by the New York Times in 1998, Luis Posada Carriles revealed that the CIA trained him along with other Cuban exiles: "The C.I.A. taught us everything... [t]hey taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage. When the Cubans were working for the C.I.A. they were called patriots... Now they call it terrorism."
Concerning Jorge Mas Canosa, Posada also admitted that "leaders of the [Cuban American National Foundation (CANF)] discreetly financed his [bombing] operations. [Jorge Mas Canosa] personally supervised the flow of money and logistical support."
"Jorge controlled everything... Whenever I needed money, he said to give me $5,000, give me $10,000, give me $15,000, and they sent it to me."
Posada estimated that Mas Canosa had over the years provided him a total of $200,000.
Other links between Jorge Mas Canosa and terrorism were alleged by a former CANF board member in 2006. According to Jose Antonio Llama, Mas Canosa helped organize a "paramilitary group" within CANF beginning in 1992 to overthrow Fidel Castro. Francisco J. Hernandez, CANF's current President, was also alleged to have been involved.
Antonio Llama was arrested, among others, in 1997 on charges of conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro. Among the weapons found in that criminal investigation were two .50 caliber Barrett assault rifles. One of the rifles was registered to Francisco J. Hernandez.
The AP (Laura Wides-Munoz) recently interviewed Francisco J. Hernandez to respond to these recently declassified CIA documents implicating Jorge Mas Canosa. He said:
"The fact of the matter is that Jorge was never a man who believed in terrorism... Yes, in those years, he believed in taking the war of liberation to Cuba, but not to kill innocent people."
But, Mas Canosa, through RECE in the 60s, did target property, and such attacks are considered acts of terrorism. Also, his relationship with the notorious Luis Posada Carriles, based on Posada's own statements throughout the years, seems to describe a man who couldn't stay away from what they now call terrorism.
--- [Update] ---
The Cuban Colada blog has more about Luis Posada Carriles' activities as an informant for the CIA.
[Photo by Steve Satterwhite/Miami New Times]