May 27, 2005

Families relieved at arrest of Cuban exile suspected in ’76 bombing

By Marvin T. Anderson
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON – On Oct. 6, 1976, Trevor Persaud’s older brother died when his plane crashed, the result of a bomb. Persaud’s family and others say Luis Posada is to blame. And with Posada’s arrest Tuesday, Persaud finally sees progress in his quest for justice.

Trevor Persaud had just graduated from high school, and his brother Raymond Persaud was helping him apply for college until the day before Raymond Persaud’s flight from Guyana to Cuba. Raymond Persaud, then 19, was on his way to study medicine, but died with 72 others on his flight to Cuba.

Posada, 77, a Cuban exile who was on the CIA payroll at one time and member of Venezuela’s intelligence service, is alleged to have been involved in a series of terrorist bombings in Cuba, as well as the 1976 bombing of the Cuban jetliner.

In an interview with the Miami Herald published Tuesday, Posada denied any involvement with the jetliner bombing, but victims’ relatives still consider him to be one of the top organizers.

“It’s not my belief. Those two guys masterminded the bombing,” said Persaud, 45, a Seal Beach, Calif., businessman. The second man is Orlando Bosch, another accused terrorist and alleged associate of Persaud’s.

Posada was never convicted on any charges related to the 1976 bombing, but his accusers say he attended secret meetings held regarding the bombing.

His arrest has Trevor Persaud relieved.

“It’s the first step in the process,” Persaud said. “He may finally get his day in court.”

Persaud said he wants Venezuela to extradite Posada and the U.S. government should comply.

“Its not vengeance. We have kind of forgotten about this,” Persaud said. “It’s been 20-some years. We are looking for justice.”

Persaud said that his family had moved past the event until his mother saw an article in a Queens, N.Y., newspaper that said Posada was applying for political asylum in the United States. Persaud said he felt he had to do something.

Persaud appeared at a press conference Friday with his older brother, Kenrick Persaud, filmmaker Gloria La Riva, other family members of those who died on the plane and former government and organization officials.

The press conference was arranged by the political coalition ANSWER, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

La Riva showed a short documentary she made about a few family members of passengers on the jetliner. She said the arrest is a bittersweet victory.

She said she fears the United States will protect Posada from trial by keeping him in prison here. She wants Posada to return to Venezuela where she said the crime was committed, the actions were planned and the weapons bought.

“He is only being arrested by the U.S. to escape authorities in Venezuela, where everybody involved in the case says he needs to be tried, ” La Riva said.

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