Luis Posada Carriles' trial over criminal immigration charges started today. Laura Wides-Munoz for the AP provides an interesting report and interview with Posada revealing deep concern at the possibility of being jailed. "If I go to jail, my life ends in jail," says Posada.
Posada was arrested by U.S. immigration officials back in May 2005. It wasn't until January 2007 that Posada was charged with making false statements on his naturalization application and interview. But, in May 2007 Posada was exonerated of these charges because the federal judge believed Posada was the victim of entrapment during the naturalization process. That ruling was later overturned in August of 2008 by a federal appeals court, and after much delay Posada is finally back in court.
[Check a list of important court documents at the Along the Malecon blog.]
Since his release in 2007, Posada has been very active throughout Miami. The main mission of course was to collect funds for his legal expenses, thus public appearances seemed obligatory. Through the years, Posada has met with several important leaders in the Cuba exile community as shown in the collection of photos above.
- Rep. David Rivera (top left) - Newly elected, Rep. Rivera showed his support for Luis Posada Carriles on December 30, 2010 at a public solidarity event [video] in front of the Versailles Restaurant. Rep. Rivera is a member of the hardline/militant organization called the Cuban Orthodox People's Party (Partido del Pueblo Cubano Ortodoxo) which is headed by Cuban exile militant Luis Conte Aguero. Conte Aguero was the main speaker at the Posada solidarity event, and is a fervent Posada supporter. Rep. Rivera showed up at the event, not just to regurgitate platitudes, but to show his solidarity with Cuba exile militancy. Also at the event were Antonio Esquivel, president of the Cuban exile organization Junta Patriotica Cubana, representing the organization's support for Posada and Nelis Rojas Morales, one of the main organizers of Posada's legal fund.
- Mayor Julio Robaina (bottom left) - Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina allowed the City of Hialeah to present artwork by Luis Posada Carriles at the Walker Community Center on November 15, 2007 (check this schedule). In the photo, Posada stands in front of the Mayor with human rights activist Armando Valladares in the back. The photo was taken during an exhibition of Valladares' artwork on September 14, 2007. (Photos of both events can be found on the City of Hialeah website here.) Mayor Robaina is hoping to become the next Mayor of Miami-Dade County in 2012.
Others in the photo include, Sylvia Iriondo (bottom middle) and Bertha Antúnez Pernet (top right). Both women work prominently with the Cuban Democratic Directorate, a hard-line human rights organization in Miami that has received money from USAID. Both Iriondo and Antúnez travel overseas to promote a hard-line policy towards Cuba while documenting the political repression inside the island. Antunez is also the sister of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, Cuban dissident whose recorded editorials now appear regularly on Radio Mambi.
Finally, there's Alex Hanna (bottom right), the traffic ticket attorney whose face appears on many billboards and bus benches around Miami. In the photo above he appears next to Posada receiving artwork by Posada during a meeting of the Cuban Orthodox People's Party where Hanna is also a member. Hanna seems to be a very successful attorney who also sponsors many programs on local station America TeVe, which regularly features hard-liners in Miami.
The photos above, mostly collected from the archives of Libre magazine, while only a few, represent the strong support for Posada in Miami. Previous posts related to Luis Posada Carriles also show local support by some Cuban exiles.
[Correction: Radio/TV Marti has reported on the start of the Luis Posada Carriles trial. They include news from EFE news agency reporting that Luis Posada was met with protesters calling him an "assassin" as he left his hotel. The report interviews a supporter of Posada saying that Posada was "verbally attacked" by the ANSWER Coalition. The Nuevo Accion blog reports that the protesters "tried to physically attack" Posada "inside the hotel," but were thwarted by Posada supporters. Nuevo Accion has a consistent record of misinformation.]
[Watch the ANSWER Coalition peacefully demonstrate before the Posada trial.]