Friends of Luis Posada Carriles held a banquet May 2 at the Big Five Club in West Miami-Dade in honor of the 80-year old Cuban exile. Pedro Peñaranda, president of Municipalities of Cuba in Exile, the group organizing the event, told the Miami Herald that supporters wanted to “recognize Posada as a great Cuban, a man of dignity and decency and as a great patriot.”

While a band played, a “beaming” Posada circulated among the tables greeting acquaintances, many of them fellow combatants at the Bay of Pigs, members of the so-called Brigade 2506. Well over 500 guests were on hand, including Ernesto Diaz, leader of the paramilitary Alpha 66 organization.
Posada is no stranger to the Big Five. Its lobby last year became a gallery for display and sale of 30 Posada paintings

In the early 1970s, Posada ran Venezuela’s intelligence service as a torture shop. He helped direct a worldwide campaign of anti-Cuban sabotage and slaughter. He engineered a 1976 bomb attack on a Cuban Airliner killing 73 passengers. He supplied arms to “contra” rebels in Nicaragua under CIA auspices. He organized bombings of Havana hotels in 1997. One explosion killed an Italian tourist. Posada staged an assassination attempt against Cuban President Fidel Castro in 2000. He was honored for these “contributions.”

Luis Posada, having entered the United States in 2005, was released pre-trial from jail on May 8, 2007 by federal judge Kathleen Cardone, who rejected a prosecutors’ case charging him with lying to immigration officials. Since then Posada had been spotted in public only rarely in Miami prior to the Big Five gala.

Venezuela has sought Posada’s extradition in order to finish with court proceedings related to the airliner bombing. Asked to comment on the event honoring Posada, Bernardo Alvarez, Venezuelan ambassador in Washington, said the United States “instead of complying with its treaty obligations, has provided protection for him … It is once again a demonstration of the double standard on terrorism issues.”

For over two years, a New Jersey grand jury has been exploring an indictment against Posada for taking Cuban exile money to pay for the hotel bombing attacks.