On Jan. 10, the United States government began its sham trial of notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in El Paso, in which Posada is being charged not as a mass murderer, but as a liar.
The night before and the morning of the trial, a People's Tribunal of Posada and a protest rally at the Courthouse, exposed Posada's real crimes and put them in the broader context of the 50-year war of terrorism by the United States against Cuba.
The Unitarian Universalist Community hall in El Paso was packed on Sunday night to listen to speakers including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; Keith Bolender, author of a new book on terrorism against Cuba; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice; Brian Becker, National Director of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Gloria La Riva of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Youth activists Lisa Santillanes, Joel Gallegos and Chris Banks also spoke.
Speakers talked about Posada's crimes, but also about Posada's role as an agent of the U.S. government in its "regime change" policy in Cuba.
Becker said: "Cuba is not engaged in any activities that could be remotely considered harmful or dangerous to the people of the United States or to the people of the Caribbean or the people of Latin America or the people of Africa. In fact the only thing the people of the world recognize Cuba for ... is sending doctors and nurses who provide health care free of charge, who by extension demonstrate the vitality and vibrancy, the validity of a revolution that said 'profits don't come first, we put people first.'"
Verheyden-Hilliard said, "They can't put Posada on trial, because it would be putting the U.S. on trial, and it would expose the hypocrisy, the extraordinary hypocrisy about the so-called war on terror that has been drummed into our heads every day. Meanwhile, the Cuban Five, five men who heroically sought to stop terrorism, are now jailed, and Posada walks free, to go to parties with his friends, to brag of his criminal acts."
Perhaps the most moving part of the evening came when La Riva introduced a short video of interviews she did with family members of the victims of Posada's mid-air bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976 which took the lives of 73 people. The audience paid rapt attention as several of the family members spoke about the impact that the crime had on their lives.
Bolender gave testimonies from his book, "Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba." It is filled with interviews of survivors of the countless acts of terrorism which have taken the lives of 3,478 Cubans, and other victims, since 1959.
Fabio di Celmo was killed by a bomb that was planted in a Havana hotel by one of Posada's mercenaries. His brother, Livio di Celmo, sent a letter to the Tribunal, which was read by Chris Banks, demanding justice for his brother.
The following morning, a spirited crowd was on hand with banners demanding Posada's extradition and the freedom of the Cuban Five as Posada entered the Courthouse. Protestors held up a wall of photos of 74 of Posada's victims (the 73 victims of the plane bombing and Fabio di Celmo). Speeches and chants in English and Spanish continued for the entire morning.
At the rally, Ramsey Clark spoke eloquently about the Cuban Five: "The Cuban Five came here to protect their country. They came here to prevent terrorism. The Cuban Five stand for freedom. They stand for peace."
Extensive coverage of the Tribunal and the protest rally included AP, Reuters, The Miami Herald, EFE, Telesur, several TV stations in El Paso, El Paso Times, El Diario de El Paso newspaper, Radio Havana Cuba, Radio Rebelde of Cuba, and Mexican TV stations and newspapers. The Tribunal was also broadcast live over the Internet, where it was seen by people around the world.
Russian TV about Peoples Tribunal
See the whole tribunal
Brian Becker speech at tribunal
Video of protest at Courthouse
Message from Livio di Celmo
Purchase "Voices from the Other Side"
More pictures of the Tribunal
More pictures of the protest
National Committee To Free The Cuban Five