Demand investigation of murder of progressive Cuban-American in 1978

Demands are being raised for a government investigation of the murder of a progressive young Cuban immigrant in Puerto Rico on April 28, 1979, 35 years ago this past Monday.

Carlos Muñiz Varela was born in the town of Colon, in Matanzas province, Cuba. Just 25 years old at the time of his death, he was a “Peter Pan baby”, i.e. a child who was sent out of Cuba by his parents in 1961 when he was 8 years old after the Cuban Revolution triumphed. Settling in Puerto Rico with his family, he became active in left-wing organizations including those working for the independence of Puerto Rico. Like some, but not all, Peter Pan babies, he began to work to improve relations between the land of his birth and the United States, rather than becoming a hard-line anti-communist. He worked with Puerto Rican friends on the progressive Cuba-themed magazine Areito starting in 1973 and visited Cuba on journalistic missions. All these things incurred the rabid hatred of the right wing Cuban exiles.

He was shot execution style as he drove through the town of Guaynabo, on the North coast of Puerto Rico east of the capital, San Juan, and died two days later, on April 30. Nobody has ever been arrested, let alone prosecuted, for this atrocious murder. However, he had received threats from a person who identified himself as “Zeta” (the letter “z” in Spanish) and claimed to be representing the Omega 7 organization. Omega 7 was an organization of violent anti-Castro exiles, said to be based in Newark, New Jersey, and financially supported by Cuban exile businessmen there, which carried out numerous bombing and shooting attacks during this period, resulting in several deaths of progressive Cuban-Americans and a Cuban diplomat. In 1980 Omega 7 attempted but failed to assassinate Ramon Sanchez Parodi, at that time the head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. Eventually, in 1984, Eduardo Arocena, the head of Omega 7 was convicted of 32 bombing and shooting attacks, but not for the Muñiz incident.

Muñiz’ family and friends have repeatedly asked for a Justice Department investigation of his death, but have received no response. When President Obama was sworn in in 2009, the request was repeated to him and to Attorney General Eric Holder. Now it is being requested again, by Carlos Muñiz son, Carlos Muñiz Perez, and other relatives and friends, in an open appeal to Obama and Holder.

They have also asked for a full investigation of the murder in 1976 of Santiago Mari Pesquera, the son of Juan Mari Bras, at that time the leader of the pro-independence Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP).

They accuse U.S. and Puerto Rican authorities of a cover up, for not long after the murder the names of the right-wing exiles suspected of the murder began to circulate thanks to comments by some Puerto Rican police officers.

The former president of the Cuban “People’s Power” parliament, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, has now added his voice to the demands for an investigation and an end to the cover up. Alarcon writes that the FBI has been covering up knowledge of who murdered Muñiz, and also Santiago Mari. “In 2008 the person who was then head of the FBI in Puerto Rico communicated to the then Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Roberto Sanchez Ramos, that his agency had proof that would allow clarification of who were the authors of the murder…..Before being installed in the White House President Obama received an open letter from the governor of Puerto Rico [at that time], Anibal Acevedo Vila, which requested that the FBI turn over to Puerto Rican courts the information that it had about the death of Carlos and also relating to the murder of Santiago Mari Pesquera….”

Alarcon concludes by calling for the questioning of three noted Cuban extremists now living in the United States: Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, convicted for his part in the murder of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his U.S. assistant Ronnie Moffitt, in the middle of Embassy Row in Washington D.C. in 1976, Pedro Crispin Remon Rodriguez, and Reynol Rodriguez Gonzalez.

At this time of writing there has been no response yet from the U.S. authorities.

Photo: Blogspot


Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.