Luis Posada remains in jail because Federal Judge Philip Martinez denied his petition for habeas corpus on Feb. 21. The anti-Cuban exile has been held since May 2005 on charges of illegal entry into the U.S. An immigration judge had directed federal authorities to deport him, but no country would take him. Legally, he was about to be released.

The U.S. government, however, changed the rules in January, charging Posada with seven counts of fraud and lying about his arrival in Florida in March 2005. Judge Martinez ruled that Posada, no longer detained by immigration authorities, must remain in prison pending the outcome of his trial on criminal charges next May in El Paso.

Venezuela repeatedly has sought Posada’s extradition so that he could finish legal proceedings there on his role in organizing a bomb attack that on Oct. 6, 1976 brought down a Cuban Airliner killing all 73 people aboard. Venezuela, represented in the United States by Lawyer Jose Pertierra, argues that international anti-terrorism protocols require U.S. action.

The Convention on Civil Aeronautics (1971) and the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), treaties signed by the U.S. government, require that the U.S. government, if unable to extradite terror suspects, must try them for terrorism within the U.S., even though their crimes take place elsewhere. So far Washington has not complied.

Commenting on Judge Martinez’ action, Pertierra said, “Through legal technicalities, the United States has succeeded in keeping Posada in jail without having to declare him a terrorist. This decision puts off the need to declare him a terrorist until the sentencing court decides on the charges of lying.”

In Miami, kid glove handling of an accused terrorist is seen as persecution. Organizers of a Feb. 24 pro-Posada rally claimed the backing of 40 organizations in New Jersey, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Leaders of the Miami rally scathingly alleged that U.S. authorities have kept 413 Cubans in jail “for promoting actions against the Castro regime.”

Speaking at a news conference in Miami on Feb. 23, Andres Gomez called for Posada to be tried on charges of terrorism. Gomez, spokesperson for the Marti Alliance, a coalition calling for normalization of U. S. – Cuban relations, denounced Posada as “ guilty of the first degree murder of 73 persons. We insist that he be tried for his crimes of terrorism.”

Gomez, coordinator of Miami’s Antonio Maceo Brigade condemned the “special relation between the federal government and these assassins.” On Areitodigital, an Internet journal, he asks, “Doesn’t it matter that these arsenals of arms and explosives would be used against the Cuban people to cause death and devastation. …Is this how this government plans to guarantee international collaboration in its anti-terrorism campaign. What guarantee do federal authorities have that these arms and explosives aren’t going to be used here in Miami?

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