In Colombia this year a total of seven US soldiers (including a colonel) have been arrested for, between them, selling ammunition to right-wing paramilitaries and attempting to smuggle cocaine into the US. Before the Colombian judiciary could blink, they were whisked out of the country to prevent further embarrassment and have not yet been charged with any crime.
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada used to be President of Bolivia, before he ordered the massacre of peaceful protesters in 2003 and fled to Miami to escape the furious backlash. Bolivians want him tried for crimes against humanity, but that doesn't seem likely while he's protected by the US government, who immediately granted him political asylum.
Notice a pattern?
The problem for Bush is that these cases all reveal the ugly underside of US foreign policy in Latin America. Declassified FBI documents prove Posada was a CIA agent (specialising in explosives) while also freelancing for the Las Vegas mafia. After escaping Venezuelan jail in 1985 he worked for Oliver North supplying arms to the US-backed Contras in their war against the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua. His terrorist career continues in Cuba (where he had been a policeman under the Batista dictatorship) with a string of hotel bombings during an international youth festival in 1997, resulting in several injuries and the death of an Italian tourist. In an interview with the New York Times the following year Posada practically boasted about this terrorism. He was part of the infamous Operation Condor, which co-ordinated right-wing military dicatorships in the region for the US government, and has tried to assassinate Castro at least twice: once in Caracas in 1971 (while head of DISIP, the Venezuelan political police) and again in 2000 in Panama, where he served four years in jail before being pardoned by the outgoing president (who now lives in Florida).
On Monday 13th June, there will be an immigration hearing in El Paso, Texas, to decide Posada's fate. The case has become a major headache for George Bush, as Posada is hailed as a hero amongst the rich right-wing Castro-hating Miami Cubans who form a key component of his (and especially his brother's) base of support. However, refusal to extradite Posada will clearly make a mockery of the whole "War on Terror". Posada is a 77-year-old man who has lead a lifetime of terrorism directed against progressive movements in Latin America. The embarrassing fact that this terror was in line with US foreign policy and supported by the US government doesn't make harbouring him any less hypocritical. Join the international outrage over these double-standards and protest outside the US embassy in London on this day from 4pm to 7pm. Music, food and an open-mic, with speakers from Hands Off Venezuela, Bolivia Solidarity Campaign, Colombia Solidarity Campaign and others. Pass it on!
hands off venezuela (london)