Gulf Times, Qatar
Published: Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 08:22 AM Doha Time
HAVANA: The release from US custody of an anti-Castro exile blamed for the downing of a Cuban airliner 30 years ago has fanned angry anti-American sentiment in Cuba.
“Down with Imperialism. We demand justice. Long live Fidel,” chanted several hundred students at a protest outside the US diplomatic mission on Havana’s waterfront on Thursday.
The youths, carrying photos of the 73 passengers and crew who died in the plane bombing off Barbados in 1976, called for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela to stand trial.
The 79-year-old former CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency) operative accused of plotting the mid-air bombing from Caracas was freed on bail from a US prison in New Mexico pending trial on immigration charges.
“This is the most unjust thing the US has done since the war in Iraq,” said art instructor Aliesky Perez.
Caridad Rodriguez, lining up at Havana’s Coppelia ice-cream parlour, said: “It’s not right that Posada Carriles is walking free. He killed many people and should pay for it.”
Cuba’s communist authorities call the veteran Cuban exile the “bin Laden of Latin America” and say he was behind a wave of bomb blasts in Havana hotels in 1997 and plots to kill ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Castro, who has not appeared in public since emergency surgery more than eight months ago, accused Washington of harbouring his nemesis in a editorial column last week that criticised US hypocrisy in the war on terror.
Carriles, a Cuban-born Venezuelan national, was freed on bail totaling $350,000 and must remain under house arrest at his wife’s Miami home until his May 11 trial for immigration fraud.
Cuba says US authorities are protecting Posada Carriles by prosecuting him on immigration charges and not terrorism.
The president of Cuba’s National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, said US authorities were reluctant to put Posada Carriles on trial because of his past ties to US intelligence services.
“Why don’t they try him for terrorism? Because a trial against Posada Carriles would be a trial against Bush Jr and above all against his father, who headed the CIA when Posada Carriles committed his worst crimes,” he said, referring to US President George W Bush and former president George H W Bush. – Reuters