Actions in El Paso Demand Justice for the Victims of Luis Posada Carriles, Freedom for the Cuban Five
by Steve Patt
Jan. 13, 2011
Photos of Posada's victims greeted those who arrived at the Courthouse
On January 10, the United States government began its sham trial of notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in El Paso, a trial in which Posada is being charged not as a mass murderer, but as a liar. The night before and the morning of the trial, a People’s Tribunal of Posada and a protest rally at the Courthouse itself exposed the real nature of Posada’s crimes and set them in the broader context of the 50-year war of terrorism of the U.S. and its agents against Cuba, in their attempt to overturn the Cuban Revolution.
The Unitarian Universalist Community hall in El Paso was packed on Sunday night to listen to speakers including Ramsey Clark, former Attorney-General of the United States, Keith Bolender, author of a new book on terrorism against Cuba, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice, Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, and Gloria La Riva of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Speakers talked not just about Posada’s crimes, however, but about how Posada was acting as an agent of the U.S. government in attempting carrying out its “regime change” policy in Cuba. And they addressed the question of why the U.S. ruling class is so threatened by Cuba.
As Becker put it: “Cuba is not engaged in any activities that could be remotely considered harmful or dangerous to the people of the United States or to the people of the Caribbean or the people of Latin America or the people of Africa. In fact the only thing the people of the world recognize Cuba for is not sending guns and bombs and missiles but sending doctors and nurses who provide health care free of charge, who by extension demonstrate the vitality and vibrancy, the validity of a revolution that said ‘profits don’t come first, we put people first.’”
Verheyden-Hilliard, speaking about the hypocrisy of the so-called “war on terror,” observed: “We know that if the U.S. government makes the bomb, or the U.S. government drops the bomb or plants the bomb, or if the U.S. funds the person who plants the bomb, or if the U.S. trains the person who plants the bomb, or if that bomber is supportive of U.S. foreign policy, no matter how many people are killed, that will never be terrorism.”
Speakers watching the video. From left to right: La Riva, Clark, Bolender, Verheyden-Hilliard, Becker.
Perhaps the most moving part of the evening came when La Riva introduced a short video of interviews she had conducted with family members of the victims of Posada’s most heinous act, the mid-air bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976 which took the lives of 73 people. The audience paid rapt attention as several of the family members spoke about the impact that event had had on their lives.
Bolender’s book, “Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba,” is filled with such interviews, not just with victims of the plane bombing, but of the countless other acts of terrorism which have taken the lives of 3,478 Cubans since 1959, and impacted the lives of thousands more [Copies of Bolender’s book can be purchased at our online store]. One of those people is Livio di Celmo, the brother of another one of Posada’s victims, Fabio di Celmo, who was killed in a 1997 hotel bombing. A letter sent by Livio to the Tribunal was read, demanding justice for his brother’s murder.
Video of the Tribunal, which was broadcast live over the Internet and seen by people around the world, can be viewed here.
The following morning, a spirited crowd was on hand with banners demanding Posada’s extradition and the freedom of the Cuban Five to greet Posada as he entered the Courthouse. A wall of photos of 74 of Posada’s victims (the 73 victims of the plane bombing and Fabio di Celmo) was on hand to remind the world of the crimes of Posada which cry out for justice. Speeches and chants in English and Spanish continued for the entire morning.
Along with other speakers, Ramsey Clark spoke eloquently about the Cuban Five: "The Cuban Five came here to protect their country. They came here to prevent terrorism. The Cuban Five stand for freedom. They stand for peace."
Extensive coverage of the Tribunal and the protest rally included AP, Reuters, the Miami Herald, EFE, Telesur, several local TV stations in El Paso, the El Paso Times and the El Diario de El Paso newspaper.
Video of the protest
Click here to see more pictures of the Tribunal, and here to see more pictures of the protest.