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On June 13, ANSWER has called for a national day of action in support of the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles. Actions are scheduled in at least a dozen North American cities, with the following demands:
No Asylum for Luis Posada Carriles Extradite him to Venezuela for Trial End the 45-Year U.S. War Against Cuba Free the Cuban 5 anti-terrorists from U.S. prison
The most ambitious is the one which will be held in El Paso, Texas, where Posada Carriles’ immigration hearing will be held that day; because his previous hearing was held in Miami at 7 a.m., presumably to discourage demonstrations, the demonstration in El Paso starts at 6:30 a.m. (!) Demonstrations in other cities are scheduled at more “civilized” hours. Details of all the actions can be found on the ANSWER website.
There are a number of reasons why the struggle to extradite Luis Posada Carriles, which might seem at first to be a peripheral issue, is of vital importance to progressives and antiwar activists in the United States.
First, there is a simple matter of justice for Posada Carriles’ victims. Those victims were more than just numbers (“73 dead”), or more than just a symbol (“the entire Cuban junior fencing team”) – each one of them was a real person, with a real life, and a real family, and their deaths weren’t just the single tragedy of a downed airliner, they were 73 individual tragedies. Gloria LaRiva, the national coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and one of the leading Cuba solidarity activists in the U.S. for many years, was in Cuba recently where she interviewed relatives of those victims; here’s what the family of one of them had to say:
“Ricardo Cabrera, 22, was part of Cuba’s national fencing team. Fresh from a Pan-American competition in Venezuela, the entire team, women’s and men’s division, had won every gold medal in Caracas. Thrilled with their victory, they were heading home.
“His sister, Lilia Caridad Cabrera, still cries when she speaks of her brother. ‘I was 16 years old. They came to tell us about the plane as I was leaving for school in the morning. That day, sadness came to reside in our home. He was studying architecture. As a youth, he grew up in the process of the Revolution. As the oldest, he gave us younger siblings a lot of guidance and support. My family has never recovered from his loss. We can’t accept the idea that at only 22 years, he died from such a horrible and sad death.
“‘I want to ask the American people: please unite with us, don’t shelter Posada Carriles in the United States. Help us get justice. He needs to receive justice or he will continue to commit terrorism, including against the people of the United States. Please understand our feelings of sorrow that engulf us. Help us win justice.'”
The second reason to fight for the extradition of Posada Carriles is to expose the hypocrisy of the U.S. in its claims to be fighting a “war on terror.” The invasion of Afghanistan, even though completely illegal, at least arguably had something to do with fighting terrorists, although many would say that oil pipelines and domestic political considerations were larger motivations. The invasion of Iraq, however, had nothing whatsoever to do with combating terrorism. The truth is that those wars themselves, the decade-long embargo (and continual bombing) of Iraq which preceded the invasion of Iraq, as well as the American bombing campaign against Yugoslavia have been the most signficiant acts of terrorism to take place in the world in the last decade, and the United States isn’t fighting a war on terror, it’s fighting a war of terror, and the more people understand that, the easier it will be for us to put an end to it.
But the United States isn’t just being hypocritical in sheltering terrorists like Posada Carriles, it is also completely complicit in his actions (and the actions of many other anti-Cuban terrorists), and exposing that complicity is the third reason to support the campaign against Luis Posada Carriles. We already know from files that have been released that the U.S. had prior knowledge of the bombing of the Cubana airliner; other documents certainly exist which expose the U.S. role in anti-Cuban terrorism, the support for the Contras attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, the recent coups against Chavez in Venezuela and Aristide in Haiti, and so many more. Demanding that the U.S. release all its files is one more aspect of the fight to extradite Posada Carriles, and exposing both the hypocrisy and the complicity of the United States is, at its core, exposing the nature of U.S. foreign policy, and weakening support for that foreign policy among the American people.
And last but not least, supporting the extradition of Posada Carriles is important because forcing the U.S. to extradite him will be a victory for Cuba, for Venezuela, and for all countries where U.S. imperialism has intervened and continues to intervene by sponsoring covert (and sometimes overt) actions. As a socialist, I support the Cuban revolution, and the revolutionary “process” which is taking place in Venezuela. But even if you just consider yourself a radical, an anarchist, a progressive, or even a liberal, and even if you don’t believe socialism is the “right answer” for humanity, you still have to believe that Cuba, and Venezuela, and every other country, have the right to chart both a foreign policy and an economic policy of their own choosing, free of interference (and blockades, coups and attempted coups, terrorist actions, and every other kind of pressure) from the United States.
Cuba isn’t hated by the United States government because of any supposed repression of its citizens; there are dozens of countries around the world who would deserve the focus of such anger that the U.S. reserves for Cuba, but most of them are U.S. allies. Cuba isn’t even hated by the United States because it’s a tiny area of the world where the capitalist system can’t extract additional profits, because the potential amounts involved wouldn’t put a dent in the bottom line of the U.S. economy. No, Cuba is hated by the United States, and has been the object of attempts to overthrow its government by military force or economic pressure for 46 years, because of the example it sets for the people of the world. The example that a country, even a small country just 90 miles from the United States, can actually chart an independent course in the world, a course involving an independent foreign policy and an economic system designed around the needs of its own people, and not around the needs of multinational corporations. And Venezuela is hated by the United States not because of any supposed affronts to “democracy”, but because it is following the Cuban example, not with an idea of slavishly duplicating the Cuban experience, but simply with the idea that the Venezuelan people should make their own decisions, in their own best interests.
The relationship of the U.S. government with Luis Posada Carriles is a weak link for the U.S. because it is so obvious how hypocritical they will be if they don’t extradite him to Venezuela to face justice. For that reason support for that extradition is of critical importance, and far from just the minor matter of the immigration status of one individual. Join in the actions on June 13 and help strike a blow against U.S. foreign policy.
Eli Stephens is the editor of Left I on the News (http://lefti.blogspot.com)