[Marxism] IMPORTANT: re: Santiago Alvarez: "Backer's arrest clouds case" (MH)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 29 05:29:10 MST 2005

This is a very important article. Oh, to be a fly on the wall
inside as the lawyers, Posada and the U.S. officials threaten
one another, and as the federal prosecutors ask themselves if
they really want individuals like this to be called to testify
in the case of the Cuban Five! 

Does the United States administration of Bush really want to
have Leonard Weinglass examining Luis Posada Carriles and also
Orlando Bosch Avila, AS DEFENSE WITNESSES (hostile, unwilling) 
in the case of the Cuban Five? Imagine the voir dire with men
like that? Then Ann Louise Bardach and Larry Rohter from the
New York Times called to testify on behalf of the defense, too?

You'll recall that the verdict in the Cuban Five case was over-
turned because, in the first instance, they could not get a fair
trial in Miami because of the prejudicial atmosphere prevailing
there. For over forty years, Cuban exile terrorist militants in
that city have been able to frighten or kill with impunity and
because of that it was obviously impossible for the Cuban Five
to get even the pretense of a fair trial. Here we receive an
inverse proof of the exact same political-juridical reality:

"Alvarez's lawyer, Kendall Coffey, says the government may 
try to move Alvarez's case out of Miami-Dade County to 
increase the likelihood of getting a jury to convict him."

Coffey, one of the gaggle of lawyers hired to defend the Miami
gang who thought Elian Gonzalez should go to his only living
parent because of that parent's politics, knows very well that
the truth about Cuban exile militants can't be disclosed in
Miami, but outside Miami, it can be. It's for exactly these
reasons that the three-judge federal panel ordered the case to
be tried OUTSIDE of Miami.

JIM MULLIN: The Burden of a Violent History in Miami:

Federal panel ruling in the Cuban Five case:

Facts about Luis Posada Carriles:

Posted on Tue, Nov. 29, 2005


Backer's arrest clouds case

The ripple effects of Santiago Alvarez's arrest on federal weapons
and passport charges could reach the man he swore to help, Cuban
exile militant Luis Posada Carriles.

ocorral at herald.com

With his biggest benefactor, Santiago Alvarez, behind bars, Cuban
exile militant Luis Posada Carriles' chances of walking out of
federal custody before year's end have sustained a serious blow.

So far, exile leaders, who came out in force to support Alvarez at
his first court appearance, have taken a wait-and-see approach. Only
a small protest from a fringe anti-Castro group is planned in front
of federal court Dec. 6, when Alvarez is scheduled to be arraigned.

But the ripple effects of Alvarez's arrest could well reach the man
he swore to help, Posada.

''If the government makes the argument and shows that [Posada] is a
danger to the community because of his ties to these people now being
indicted, they can hold him for six more months, and obviously that
is concerning us because he is an older gentleman of deteriorating
health,'' said Renee Soto, one of Posada's lawyers.

Last week, a U.S. magistrate refused to release Alvarez and Osvaldo
Mitat, another exile who worked for Alvarez, because their possession
of machine guns, grenades and rounds of ammunition amounted to a
''crime of violence'' and posed a danger to the community.

That could be devastating for Posada, who is now in detention in an
immigration facility in El Paso and recently persuaded a judge to
stop his deportation to Venezuela or Cuba. Now the government may not
release Posada if he is believed to be dangerous or a threat to
national security or the community.

''This could potentially open up a can of worms against Posada by
bringing him some kind of guilt by association,'' said immigration
and criminal defense lawyer Luis Fernandez, who is not involved in
the Posada case.

While there has been no legal link made between the two men's cases,
Posada's mere presence in this country may have brought federal
scrutiny on Alvarez, who publicly took credit for helping Posada, a
Cuban with Venezuelan citizenship, enter the United States illegally.

Posada's presence in the United States has embarrassed the Bush
administration, by putting it in the uncomfortable position of being
accused of harboring a suspected terrorist even as it wages a global
war on terror.


Soto said Posada told her he believes the case against Alvarez was a
''setup.'' He also thinks the U.S. government's confidential
informant in the case may have had ties to the Cuban government.

Alvarez, 64, and Posada, 77, have known each other for years. Like
Posada, Alvarez is a U.S. Army veteran who was trained by the CIA for
the failed Bay of Pigs mission.

Alvarez's arrest also may make it harder for Posada to afford his
legal defense. Posada's lawyers are working pro-bono, but Alvarez was
paying the lawyers' travel to El Paso and other expenses. For now,
Soto said the firm will continue to represent him.

Alvarez, who said he once drove a Ferrari, has not always run a
money-making real-estate business. His companies have declared
bankruptcy, he has owed $500,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, and
banks have foreclosed on buildings he owned, according to public

His longtime civil lawyer, Juan Zorrilla, said Alvarez's financial
problems were legitimate parts of a growing business that stretched
itself too thin.

In 1989, a company Alvarez owned filed for bankruptcy after he ran
out of money in the middle of a development project in Hialeah
Gardens, Zorrilla said, adding that all banks were eventually repaid.

In the mid 1990s, the IRS put a lien on Alvarez for about $450,000 in
unpaid taxes, records show. And a company he owned with family
members, Coastline of Indian Creek, became the target of a mortgage
foreclosure case.

''That was a company he had,'' Zorrilla said of Coastline. ``When
Santiago buys a building, he puts in a big amount of capital
investment. In some cases, he miscalculated. This is one of them.''

Records show the IRS lien was released in 2000.

Alvarez is well known for backing militants, such as Posada and other
hard-line exiles. That could come back to haunt Posada in court.

Some immigration experts believe that foreign nationals who have been
spared deportation under terms of the Convention Against Torture,
like Posada, could be held indefinitely.

Complicating matters is an internal memorandum that U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement issued last year favoring release of
detainees who have been granted asylum or protection under the
convention. Exceptions can be made if there are ``concerns, such as
national security issues or danger to the community and absent any
requirement under law to detain.''

Alvarez's lawyer, Kendall Coffey, says the government may try to move
Alvarez's case out of Miami-Dade County to increase the likelihood of
getting a jury to convict him.


''There is a very strong concern, even deep resentment, about the
possible attempt of the government to manipulate the venue away from
Miami-Dade county,'' Coffey said. ``For an administration that relies
so heavily on Cuban-American voters, it should not be running away
from Cuban-American jurors.''

The way the exile community reacts to Alvarez's arrest will certainly
play a factor in whether the case is moved, Coffey said. If the
arrests spawn protests and demonstrations, Coffey said the government
could seize on that to say ''disruptive'' events are grounds to move
the case.

''We are going to win this case in the courtroom, not in the
streets,'' Coffey said.

So far, only Vigilia Mambisa, a small fringe group that protests
often, is planning to demonstrate in front of federal court Dec. 6.

Some exile activists said they felt that the U.S. government merely
caved in to pressure from Havana when federal officials arrested

Cuban leader Fidel Castro has repeatedly claimed Alvarez smuggled
Posada into the United States on his boat, Santrina, and has called
for Alvarez's arrest. Alvarez denies using the Santrina for

On Cuban TV Friday, Castro accused Alvarez of sponsoring terrorism
against Cuba. ''He sent armed people here, and he sent them with
dynamite and instructions to blow up Tropicana [nightclub],'' Castro

''They were going to kill someone because they've always been used
for that, to kill and prepare assassinations,'' Castro said.

Alvarez has never been charged with attacking Cuba.


Exiles who have the ability to sway public opinion through
Spanish-language radio say they don't feel Alvarez's arrest warrants
public demonstrations.

''The demagogues are using this for personal and political reasons,
saying that Castro gives an order in Havana and Washington follows.
This is their opportunity to defend the Democrats and attack Bush,''
said Cuban Liberty Council President Ninoska Perez-Castellon, who
co-hosts a talk show on Radio Mambi.

Cuban Study Group Chairman Carlos Saladrigas, considered a moderate
exile voice, said there is no reason to protest.

''Mr. Alvarez will have his day in court to prove that he is innocent
or not,'' Saladrigas said.

``Why should this community be upset about it?''

Anti-Castro activist Jose Basulto, who said he would be willing to
serve a month in jail for Alvarez, had a different take: ``A long
time ago, this community became more Republican than Cuban.''

Herald researcher Monika Leal and Herald wire services contributed to
this report.

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