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A Tale of Two Extraditions

The US government demanded that Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding extradite a drug dealer. When Venezuela made similar demands on Washington, for arguably the Hemisphere’s most notorious terrorist, the Justice Department brushed off the request.

Compare the recent arrest in Jamaica of “Dudus” (Christopher Coke) to stand trial in New York for drug and arms trafficking to Washington’s response to Venezuela’s extradition petition for Luis Posada Carriles, aka the Osama bin Laden of the Western Hemisphere for plotting the October 6, 1976 bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner over Barbados. All 73 crew and passengers died.

Evidence abounds pointing to his culpability including declassified cables from the CIA. An October 12, 1976 CIA cable from Caracas states that “Posada was overheard to say that `Now we are going to hit a Cuban airplane’.”

22 years later, Posada told NY Times reporters Ann Bardach and Larry Rohter (July13, 1998) he had orchestrated a series of hotel bombings in Cuba to dissuade tourism. An Italian tourist died in one of the blasts.

Posada’s captured underlings – arrested by police after the bombs exploded — named him as the criminal author. A recent New Jersey Federal Grand Jury gathered evidence showing Posada used money and personnel from Miami to carry out the hotel bombings.

However, instead of charging him with terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder Justice invented a legal inanity and charged Posada with immigration fraud: lying to US officials when he entered the United States in 2004. Since then, the Justice Department has created reasons to delay the case – perhaps as Jose Pertierra suggests, so he will die before going to trial.

Compare this dallying with a bona fide terrorist to the “extradite Dudus or else” position taken with Jamaica’s government. Jamaican security forces killed some 70 residents trying to capture Dudus in his Kingston neighborhood. But Washington refuses to extradite the mass murderer Posada.

As Washington intimidated Jamaica’s government over Dudus the drug and gun peddler they ignored the fact that millions of US citizens consume drugs imported from Jamaica; and US banks that launder money from the trade.

But a more sinister fact underlines the Dudus and Posada cases. Both of criminals owe their careers to Washington’s 50 year war against Cuba.

In 1976, Prime Minister Michael Manley told me during the filming of his campaign film, of an unusual invitation. In January 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, vacationing at the Rockefeller estate in Jamaica, invited Manley to visit to convince him to withdraw his support of Cuban troops in Angola. (Castro had sent troops there in October 1975 at the Angolan government’s request to stop CIA and South African invasions of that newly independent African country.) Kissinger’s grimaced as Manley reiterated his backing for Castro’s Africa policies.

“He then assured me,” Manley chuckled, “I should not worry about CIA activities in Jamaica.” But, he said, some interesting “coincidences” occurred shortly after the visit.

Norman Descoteaux arrived to head the CIA station in Kingston, an expert on destabilization campaigns in South America. As journalists arrived in Kingston to cover World Bank and IMF meetings, violence exploded in Kingston’s western slums. Tourists exposed to the media accounts would have had good reason to change plans for a Jamaican vacation. Soon afterward, security forces arrested armed youth who admitted they were getting trained to attack the government, Other gunmen killed two policemen.

Manley applied “heavy manners.” He revived a special court permitting the arrest without bail of persons with unlicensed firearms and formed unarmed, community self-defense groups. The CIA learned from its “mistakes,” however.

In Manley’s 1980 campaign for re-election, the violence far exceeded the 1976 carnage. I heard the nightly roar of gunfire in Kingston streets and filmed people weeping for their dead kin outside a recently torched housing project in a pro-Manley district. Thousands died in that pre-election period. The gangs bought by Manley’s opponent, Edward Seaga, and the CIA successfully destabilized the government.

Manley lost; Seaga became Prime Minister and the first foreign visitor to the Reagan White House.

Dudus’ father, Lester, emerged from the violence campaigns as head of the Shower Posse (they sprayed their victims with automatic weapons) in West Kingston. Having secured a political alliance with the winner in 1980, and possessing arms from the CIA, he began dealing drugs and weapons.

So powerful had the posse become – now under Dudis the son — that Labor Party chief and now Prime Minister Bruce Golding tried to defuse the US extradition request for nine months. The State Department assured him that continued resistance would endanger US-Jamaican relations (aid money) and his political career.

But Washington sneers at Venezuelan pressure just as George H. W. Bush in 1990 derided his own Justice Department’s strong advice against pardoning Orlando Bosch, Posada’s co-conspirator in the airline bombing. Judges play along with the charade. One magistrate, without fact or testimony, ruled against Posada’s extradition to Venezuela because Posada’s lawyer claimed Venezuela would torture him “while in custody.”

The Caribbean states (Caricom) called the 1976 Cubana airline bombing “terrorism in Caribbean airspace.” Ricky Siingh writing in the Jamaica Observer said “no double standards on implementation of bilateral extradition treaties should be permitted on the part of Jamaica and the USA in the case of Christopher Coke; or that involving Venezuela and America for the extradition of Posada.” June 20 Accusing the United States of double standards is like charging a prostitute with having sex. Indeed, US behavior in the Posada case gives hypocrisy a bad name.
Hubris with Jamaica over a druggie! The stalling game played with Venezuela over a terrorist! Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a nation of law?

SAUL LANDAU directed Michael Manley’s campaign films in 1976 and 1980. Counterpunch published his A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD

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SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

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