By Hugo J. Byrne

“Law is not the source, but the codification of human rights.”

Jean-François Revel (“Democracy against Itself”)

We just learned some shocking if not surprising news: the Justice Department sent FBI investigators to Castroland in 2006 in order to gather evidence to build a case against Luis Posada Carriles in the Havana bombings of tourists hotels in the late 90s. The story was printed in the Miami daily El Nuevo Herald on May 3, 2007. There is a precedent of sorts. Two years ago a Florida Court did something similar at the request of the defense during the trial of 5 spies sent by Castro to inform about U. S. military installations and Cuban exiled groups, allowing the defense team to depose officers of the Cuban regime.

Still, for the Cuban-American community -and others with critical thinking skills- there is a huge difference between the two situations. In the case against the 5 spies, albeit irrationally, the Court acted within its legal boundaries and in the public forum. The depositions of Castro’s henchmen in Havana were taped and later played in open session.

The defense’s convoluted efforts proved fruitless. Recognizing the absurdity of treating the intellectual perpetrators of the crime as legitimate witnesses, a jury -largely composed by minorities and arbitrarily cleansed of Cuban-Americans- found all the defendants guilty as charged on every count. Two of the spies are serving life sentences for complicity in the premeditated murder of 4 Cuban-Americans in 1996.

All the accusations of the Justice Department against Posada have been so far related to his alleged illegal entry to the U. S., a charge that if leveled against every other available suspect, would backlog U. S. courts for a century. In addition to singling out Posada with a charge applicable to millions of illegal aliens, the obvious weakness of the government case could dampen its chances for a guilty verdict. That weakness -observed by yours truly in a Federal Court in El Paso on March 3rd of 2007- may have caused this unprecedented action by the Executive Branch. The trip to Havana by the F. B. I. was kept from public knowledge until now. The Cuban regime has openly and consistently blocked any collaboration with the F. B. I. in the recent past.

The frantic moves by the Executive Branch to keep Posada in prison demonstrates beyond doubt its intent to use his case to appease the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez (presently supplying 17% of our oil imports) and improve relations with the many other critics of American foreign policy. Beyond the ethical implications of the Bush administration’s policies among Cuban-American voters, this approach is a huge political mistake. Mistakes in politics tend to have even more negative consequences than crimes.

I have learned that the Justice Department is now requesting from the Court to disallow past connections between Posada and the Central Intelligence Agency as evidence in his trial. Even if granted this outrageous request would not prevent the press and the Cuban-American community to expose how the political motivations of the government are detrimental to justice. What state secrets or national security could be compromised by the exposure of cold war activities over thirty-five years old?

This cynical attitude by the Bush administration could place republican Cuban-American lawmakers in a most uncomfortable position. The very first salvos of their protest are reflecting the very strong feelings of a great majority of Cuban-American voters and their fear that they could stay home on Election Day 2008.

After I wrote an open letter to President Bush in 2005 requesting the release of Posada and of my friend Santiago Alvarez, I learned that the U. S. State Department monitored my writings in “Guaracabuya”, one of the most popular sites on the Cuban-American Web.

Why the State Department? Why not the Justice Department? That is a very strong indication of the political nature of the case against Posada. Also, it is an ominous portent of the ungrateful and treasonous nature of the present policies of the Bush White House vis-à-vis the loyal and patriotic Cuban-American community.

We deserve better and shall employ every legal venue to impress that upon the administration.

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