If not to Venezuela, send Luis Posada to Panama

Jose Pertierra is Venezuela’s U.S. lawyer. He is demanding that Luis Posada be returned to Panama to finish out jail time there in connection with an attempt with three others in 2000 to murder former Cuban President Fidel Castro, then in Panama City.

Pertierra wants Panama to issue an arrest warrant for Posada, and Washington to comply. Posada now lives freely in Miami.

The attorney was responding to a unanimous ruling June 30 by Panama’s Supreme Court that pardons granted the four by outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso in 2004 were unconstitutional. Their convictions and sentences stand.

Declassified U.S intelligence documents show that ex-CIA operative Luis Posada, a citizen of Venezuela and Cuba, engineered the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 resulting in the deaths of 73 people. Posada acknowledged to a New York Times reporter that he was responsible for organizing bombings of Havana hotels in 1997 in which an Italian tourist died. Posada’s other crimes are legion.

The U.S. government has refused to honor requests from Caracas for Posada’s extradition so that judicial proceedings can proceed in Venezuela. With CIA help, Posada walked out of a Venezuelan jail in 1985.

Moscoso, who now lives in Key Biscayne, Fla., pardoned the four criminals at the U.S. government’s behest. The move was supposedly intended to cement support in Miami for Bush’s re-election that year. The three U.S. citizens among those released from jail returned to Miami as heroes. Posada entered the country illegally in 2005.

Allegations surfaced in 2004 that to encourage Moscoso to fit in with U.S. plans, Miamians raised $4 million to fund her retirement, adding a Lincoln Town Car as part of the deal.

Meanwhile, those who defended Cuba by working to combat murder and mayhem out of Miami remain in U.S. jails. As of Sept. 12, Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labinino and Antonio Guerrero will have served 10 years. Three of the five share four life sentences.

atwhit @roadrunner.com