I received an advance copy of Ann Louise Bardach's new essay, "Twilight of the Assassins," in the November issue of The Atlantic Monthly (subscription required). It is terrific and extremely interesting. Please go pick up a copy, if you don't have the online subscription. See also an interview with Bardach here at Democracy Now (via Latin America News Review), as well as this recent Herald-Tribune report.
Bardach has compiled a story over apparently a decade of research on Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, as well as others, who have been involved in several decades of terroristic bomb attacks, assassinations, drug smuggling, and political violence in Cuba, Venezuela, Central America, Puerto Rico, and the United States (yes, bombings in Miami). Posada, in particular, was once on the CIA payroll for over ten years and has been a CIA asset since the 1960s. He is, of course, wanted by the current Venezuelan government specifically for the bombing of a Cubana Airlines jet in 1976 after its takeoff from Barbados. The crash killed all 73 people on board, including the Cuban Olympic fencing team. Posada and Bosch have all but admitted the attack. But pretty much all evidence points to them as planning the bombing and giving the orders.
Bosch currently lives freely in Miami. Posada, although traveling more or less freely to the US over the past 30 years, is presently in prison in El Paso on immigration charges. Hugo Chávez wants him extradited to Venezuela to face the terror charges, since Posada is a naturalized Venezuelan citizen. The US government is resisting the extradition request.
Well, read the article. For one thing, Posada has a long history with the Bush family, having been on the CIA payroll under Bush senior and having been aided by Jeb Bush. Chávez, of course, speculates that their relationship with the CIA runs deeper than even what we know. Posada, for instance, was first recruited by JMWave, the massive CIA outfit organized to overthrow Castro and other left-leaning governments in Latin America. He became chief of security in Venezuela in 1971, when the Venezuelan government was basically an American puppet. He worked with David Atlee Phillips in developing plans to overthrow democratically-elected President Salvador Allende of Chile, who was, of course, assassinated, leading to Pinochet's US-sponsored rise to dictatorial and terrorizing power. Bosch was involved in the bombing of Allende's exiled ambassador to the US, Orlando Letelier - Letelier was killed in a car bomb at Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC in 1976, not far from where I'm currently writing. Posada also aided the US-supported Contras during the Nicaraguan civil war and apparently worked for Oliver North at the time. Bosch and Posada have tried several assassination attempts on Fidel Castro. They also carried out bombings in Cuba, San Juan, and Miami during the 1970s, possibly even with the CIA Miami office's support. Throughout nearly all of these criminal ventures, the US government either gave direct support or looked the other way. This continues with the present Bush administration. Posada is only in prison right now because he has a loud mouth.
The most famous attack, of course, was the bombing of the Cubana airliner. This is what we in the US like to call "terrorism." But since it was an attack on a Cuban plane and since most of the victims were Cuban, the US has never made much of a deal out of it. Thus Bosch and Posada continue their lives as if they had never done anything out of the ordinary.
This is, of course, one of those famously convoluted cases of one man's terrorist being another man's freedom fighter. Now we'll see whether the Bush administration walks the walk. Chávez is waiting.
See also this 2005 article at Narcosphere.
And here's where the rightwing Cubans stand on all this.