Mario J. Penton/Newsroom, Miami/Havana | Mayo 23, 2018 — Luis Posada Carriles, one of the Cuban regime’s most bitter enemies and a former CIA agent, died Wednesday in Miramar, southeast Florida, at 90 years of age after a long illness.
The activist died around 5:00 am local time “in a government veterans home,” said his lawyer, Arturo Hernandez, who told El Nuevo Herald that the anti-Castroite had been ill for a long time.
“I am very sorry because I spent five years of my life defending him and in that time he showed himself to be a great person, at least he tried to do something for Cuba,” Hernández emphasized.
In the legendary Versailles restaurant, recognized as the heart of anti-Castroism, the bakery continued serving customers as it does every day. At the rhythm of piña coladas, croquettes and cakes, the topics of conversation ranged from a shooting at a Texas school to the situation in Venezuela. The death of Posada Carriles is not a priority issue and among some customers it is even a matter of indifference.
His friends and “companions in the struggle,” however, remembered him with genuine fervor. “I knew Posada Carriles for many years, he was a great fighter against Castro’s tyranny, men like him do not come along very often, and when a person like that dies, you have to pay tribute to them,” said the politician Enrique Ruano in the popular Miami café.
Gonzalo Lopez, a 77-year-old Cuban exile who has lived in the United States for 55 years, called Posada Carriles “a tremendous patriot.”
“Unfortunately, good people are dying while the bad guys continue on in Cuba.” An opponent of the Cuban government, Lopez believes that the situation in Cuba will not change as long as citizens fail to rise up “against the dictatorship” and affirms that “Luis Posada Carriles’ methods of struggle have been tarred with many accusations that are not true. He was charged with the crash of the Cubana de Aviación airplane [in 1976] and that’s not true, behind those accusations are the communists and their allies in this country. “
Antonio Tony Calatayud, a partner with the deceased in the brigade that launched the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and a former news director for WQBA La Cubanísima, remembered Posada Carriles as a man who was “very good, very affectionate, helpful, a brother and a patriot.”
“He is an icon of the struggle for the freedom of Cuba.When the true history of the struggle for the independence of Cuba and what happened in relation to our struggles is written, it will be seen how much is defamation and how much is true, but history will recognize that Luis Posada Carriles, for us, his brothers, was a tireless patriot in the struggle for Cuba’s freedom from communist tyranny,” said Calatayud.
At the moment it is unknown what the funeral arrangements will be, although his friends and “compañeros de lucha” believe that it will be a massive and heavily attended event.
A survivor of throat cancer, of attacks attributed to the Cuban State Security and of a stroke, the health of the anti-Castro militant had deteriorated significantly after he suffered several broken bones in a traffic accident in 2015.
Posada Carriles was undoubtedly one of the worst and longest nightmares of the Cuban regime and dedicated his life, for decades, to a constant attempt to assassinate the president of the island, Fidel Castro. In the year 2000, Castro denounced an assassination plan against him in Panama, where he was attending an Ibero-American Summit.
“Luis Posada Carriles has been turned into a controversial personality for Cuban indoctrination and communist propaganda, he is a patriot and a freedom fighter, not only for Cuba but also for Venezuela,” his fellow prisoner in Panama, Pedro Remón Rodríguez, told 14ymedio.
Remón, who was detained along with Posada and spent four years in prison in Panama, remembers the late anti-Castro fighter as a sensitive, affectionate and family person. “Luis Posada Carriles had nothing to do with the blowing up of the Cubana de Aviación airplane in Barbados, absolutely not, I shared with him and he told me that was a kind of struggle that he did not believe in. We even wrote a book that was titled Fidel Castro, the Real Terrorist where we deal with this.
Mireya Moscoso, then president of Panama, pardoned him before leaving office, after which he traveled to El Salvador and from there entered the United States illegally in 2005, for which he had to face justice there.
He was acquitted in 2011 of 11 counts of perjury, fraud and obstruction in proceedings in a Texas immigration court and since then he has been living in retirement in Miami.
Another terrorist episode allegedly linked to Posada Carriles points to him as a participant in the explosion of a bomb at the Copacabana hotel in Havana in 1997, which killed an Italian tourist.
According to declassified documents from the State Department, Posada Carriles was a paid informant of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), for which he traveled to different Latin American countries where he worked against communist and leftist movements.
In fact, he worked in the 1960s and 1970s for the espionage services of Venezuela, Guatemala and El Salvador in the anti-guerrilla struggle.
Cuba and Venezuela consider Posada Carriles the intellectual author of the blowing up of a commercial Cubana de Aviación airplane in Barbados in 1976 and they attempted to capture him in order to try him for terrorism.
Born in Cienfuegos, in 1928, Posada Carriles was imprisoned in Venezuela for blowing up the plane, but in 1985 he escaped from prison, disguised and with a false document.
The former CIA agent belonged, in addition, to the United States Army between 1962 and 1963, reaching the rank of second lieutenant, and participated in the failed Bay of Pigs landing.
On the death of Fidel Castro in November 2016, Posada Carriles said he considered it “unjust” for his sworn enemy to die in the “best hospital” on the island and “so late,” although he still considered his death a “triumph.”
He acknowledged then that he tried to kill the Cuban leader several times, but “fate” did not help him.
“Castro was looking for the opportunity to kill me and I to kill him,” Posada Carriles said in the interview.
“Posada is a brother in the struggle who is leaving us,” remarked Tony Calatayud in Miami. “If we count how many of the freedom fighters for Cuba have already gone through such a long process, I would say it’s 95%, we are a kind of dinosaurs, an extinct race, where some of us are still alive. The next generations must take the step forward, the future of Cuba belongs to the young and it is only left to us to document the history to avoid. “
Cuban official propaganda labeled Posada Carriles as a “black beast” of anti-Castroism. His face often appeared on public billboards and in partisan media which tried to link him to the peaceful opposition on the island.
His death was announced in the first newscast on Wednesday, on the Buenos Días show, clarifying that the he had died “without paying for his crimes” against Cuba.
While Fidel Castro was alive, especially in the last years of his mandate, the campaign against Posada Carriles became especially intense, to the point that the population of the Island came to see the exile as an alter ego of the Commander in Chief.
In some state workplaces the information was included in the morning assembly attended by employees, and throughout the morning the news spread through the streets of Havana.
“He never came before a court for what he did, but he had to face the tribunal of history and the conscience of the Cuban people,” says Amaury Rosales, a worker at a hard currency store in Havana’s El Cerro neighborhood.
In the same store a teenager avoids answering the question about the death of Posada Carriles because “it is better not to talk about politics,” she says.
Others say that they prefer to know a little more before taking a position. “One day I would like to read something more impartial about his life in order to understand the motivations of what he did, because television here paints him as if he were a devil and nobody is like that,” explains a retired economist who prefers to remain anonymous.
The official machinery, however, did not appear to be particularly effective this Wednesday. After noon, the Granma newspaper still did not carry the news on the front page of its digital site.
In keeping with his own request, the remains of Posada Carriles will be cremated and the ashes thrown in the vicinity of the coasts of Cuba, as reported to this newspaper Humberto Lopez, member of the board of directors of the Brigade 2506, the former Bay of Pigs fighters. “His brothers in the struggle will be your honor guard at his funeral,” he added.
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