Miami protest called off after conflict


Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 2:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 2:24 p.m.

MIAMI - Protesters demanding the arrest of Luis Posada Carriles called off a planned demonstration in the Little Havana neighborhood after they were confronted by supporters of the anti-Castro Cuban militant.

A group of women from the anti-war group Codepink had planned to discuss with reporters their campaign against Posada, who is free after a judge dismissed the government's charges that he lied to investigators in a bid to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

About 15 Codepink activists were met in front of a Little Havana restaurant Saturday by some 200 supporters of Posada, who is wanted by the Cuban and Venezuelan government on charges that he plotted the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner while in Caracas.

Several of the Posada supporters charged at the activists' truck, which carried a photo of Posada and a sign reading "Wanted by the FBI: Luis Posada Carriles for terrorism." Some people tried to tear down the poster, while others shouted insults. The truck then drove away.

The activists, dressed in pink, later met with journalists at a police station about three miles away.

"We are not in Cuba. We're supposed to have free speech," said Medea Benjamin, one of Codepink's founders.

CodePink organizers said they came to Miami to get signatures on postcards advocating Posada's imprisonment. They want the FBI to put Posada Carriles on its most wanted list, Benjamin said.

Supporters of Posada say he is a hero for his fight against communism and Cuban President Fidel Castro.

"Posada Carriles is no terrorist. The terrorist is Fidel Castro," said Rene Vidal, 77.

A former CIA operative and U.S. Army officer, Posada has claimed that he was brought across the border in South Texas by a smuggler in 2005. But prosecutors argued that he really arrived in Florida on a boat from Mexico.

The case was dismissed earlier this year after U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled that the government engaged in trickery and made several mistakes while trying to build its criminal case.

Posada, 80, is presumably living in South Florida, but faces a deportation order. An immigration judge in Texas has ruled that he should be deported, but that he cannot be sent to Cuba, where he was born, or Venezuela, where he is a naturalized citizen.

Posada has denied wrongdoing in the Cuban jetliner bombing, which killed 73 people. Cuba wants to try Posada for a series of bombings at island tourist sites in 1997.

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