Just as the Bush administration is ignoring our efforts in the war on terror, it is also thwarting attempts to bring notorious terrorists to justice, and it is doing so for political reasons. The State Department has ignored repeated requests from the Venezuelan government to either try or extradite three known Venezuelan terrorists currently taking refuge on U.S. soil. The most infamous of these, Luis Posada Carriles, is known as the "Osama bin Laden of Latin America" and is widely believed to have masterminded the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that left 73 innocent civilians dead. Despite repeated requests, the Bush administration has refused to honor the extradition treaty it signed with Venezuela in 1922.
If the U.S. will not extradite Posada to Venezuela, then it is obliged under international law to prosecute him here or send him to a third country for trial. Yet it has not done so. Why has the Bush administration dragged its feet on Posada? He was once a CIA operative and has long been shielded by extremist sectors of the powerful Cuban American community in Florida. Ironically, it is the Bush administration that is not cooperating with our fight against terror.
Venezuela and the United States are natural allies, sharing long-standing ties in oil, commerce and culture. It is unfortunate that those ties were broken when the Bush administration tacitly endorsed a military coup against Chavez in 2002. The decision to accuse us of not cooperating in the war on terror is another means by which the Bush administration is trying to isolate, antagonize and destabilize Venezuela. Such political decisions erode the legitimacy of the Bush administration's mission to fight terror and alienate allies.
The war on terror cannot be fought a la carte. Nor can it be fought by resorting to methods that contradict the very values and motivations the Bush administration professes to spread around the globe. If it is serious about fighting the war on terror, it must put politics aside. Allies in the war on terror do not have to agree on domestic issues or political ideology; they must be united only in their dedication to protecting the lives of their citizens, Venezuelans and Americans alike.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Venezuela's Ambassador to the US, Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, responds in the LA Times to the Bush administration's arms-sales ban and accusation that Venezuela is uncooperative in the "war on terror." Well done, sir.