Accused Cuban bomber arrested
May 20, 2005
Accused Cuban bomber arrested

A Cuban exile accused of bombing a Cuban airliner nearly 30 years ago has been taken into federal custody in Miami, CNN said yesterday, two months after he sneaked into the country.

The network cited law enforcement sources who said federal agents had picked up Luis Posada Carriles in Miami, but did not give further details. Venezuela has asked the Bush administration to deport Carriles, an anti-communist former CIA collaborator, to face trial for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban plane that killed 73 people. {{more}}

President Fidel Castro yesterday led one million protesters past the US diplomatic mission to demand the arrest and extradition to Venezuela of Carriles.

“Bush, fascist, capture the terrorist,” soldiers, students, athletes and workers, many wearing red T-shirts, chanted as they marched along Havana’s seafront.

Organisers said 1.2 million people took part in one of the biggest demonstrations since President Castro’s successful campaign to return shipwreck victim Elian Gonzalez from Florida in 2000.

Luis Posada Carriles, an anti-communist former CIA collaborator, is wanted by Venezuela to face trial for the downing of a Cuban passenger plane in 1976 that killed 73 people.

The case has given President Castro a good cause to mobilise Cubans against his arch-enemy, the US government, which faces the dilemma of how to reconcile traditional support for politically influential Cuban exiles with its tough stance on terrorism suspects following the September 11, 2001, attacks.

“This is not a march against the people of the United States… it is a march against terrorism,” Castro said in a speech before leading the crowd for half a mile to the pace of a military band. Castro, in power since a 1959 revolution, slammed successive US administrations for training Cuban exiles in sabotage techniques and backing the use of violence against Cuba.

Youths wearing kaffiyehs held a banner that said “No to war, no to terrorism” in Arabic, a Palestine flag and a poster of iconic guerilla fighter Che Guevara.

Marchers carried pictures of Cubans who died on the Cubana Airlines DC-8 blown out of the sky shortly after taking off from Barbados in 1976. Mr Carriles was arrested in Caracas in connection with the bombing, but escaped from a high-security jail in 1985 without being convicted.

The leftist government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, President Castro’s closest ally, last week requested his extradition.