Latin American Cold War Drama Lands In Texas Immigration Court

Anti-Castro militant wanted for bombings in Venezuela and Cuba is accused of lying to US immigration officials in a case that shows past passions are very much alive

Havana sign referring to Luis Posada Carriles after his 2007 release (Peter Vanderheyden)


For many in Miami "s exile Cuban community, Luis Posada Carriles is a hero. To the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, who have been demanding his extradition from the United States, Posada is your basic blood-thirsty terrorist.

Posada stands trial, which begins this week in US District Court in El Paso, Texas, for charges far less severe than those several Latin American governments accuse him of committing. Federal prosecutors have charged the Cuban-born Venezuelan national with multiple counts of lying to US immigration officials about his past and how he entered the country in March 2005.

But this 82-year-old is not your typical defendant in a Texan immigration case. A former Cold War warrior, Posada's alleged adventures include involvement in the Bay of Pigs debacle, working for Oliver North, and spying for the US on friends and colleagues in Miami who had supported his cause.

US District Judge Kathleen Cardone is trying to avoid turning the case into a prosecution against the Havana government. Outside the courthouse, Posada's supporters and detractors held counter demonstrations.

Groups such as the National Act Now to Stop War and End Racism Coalition (ANSWER) have demanded that Washington extradite Posada to Caracas where he faces charges for his role in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Aviación airliner, which killed 73.

Posada, who had been running a private detective agency in Caracas at the time, escaped Venezuela while awaiting trial before a civilian court after his conviction by a military court was overturned. In the 1980s, he turned up in Guatemala and El Salvador, where he reportedly helped the CIA and Oliver North funnel arms to Nicaraguan Contras.

The Cuban government has also accused him of helping organize the 1997 rash of hotel bombings in the island that killed an Italian-Canadian tourist, Fabio Di Celmo, at Havana's Copacabana Hotel. The victim's brother, Livio Di Celmo, has accused several Cuban-American US lawmakers of trying to protect Posada, the Caracas daily El Nacional reported.

One of the men Posada allegedly hired to carry out the attacks, Francisco Chávez Abarca, 38, of El Salvador, who was captured in Venezuela and sent to Cuba to face trial, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last month. On Monday, Cuban television broadcast part of his confession in which Chávez Abarca claims he was "Posada's puppet."

In 2000, Panamanian authorities arrested Posada for trying to assassinate Fidel Castro during the Ibero American Summit with 200 pounds of dynamite. After being convicted, he was later pardoned by then-President Mireya Moscoso in a controversial decision. Posada has denied the charges. Even Venezuela "s Hugo Chávez has claimed that Posada sent his men to El Salvador in June 2009 to assassinate him.

After Posada showed up in the United States in 2005, he told immigration officials that he entered with the help of an alien smuggler by crossing the US-Mexican border into Brownsville, Texas. But federal prosecutors say that several accomplices helped him sneak into the country aboard a shrimp vessel through Miami, using a fake Guatemalan passport. He was jailed, but later released in 2007, and is currently living in Miami with his family.

Posada hasn't given up his anti-Castro rhetoric. In one interview he gave to the Associated Press in 2007, the fiery exile said: "If Castro came through the door, I'd kill him, not because I hate him but because I'd kill a cockroach too."

Martin Delfín


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Preparing a COVID-19 vaccine booster in Huzhou, China.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Ciao!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Brazil's senate backs "crimes against humanity" charges against Jair Bolsonaro, the UN has a grim new climate report and Dune gets a sequel. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt explores "Xi Jinping Thought," which is now being made part of Chinese schools' curriculum.



• Senators back Bolsonaro criminal charges: A Brazilian Senate panel has backed a report that supports charging President Jair Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity, for his alleged responsibility in the country's 600,000-plus COVID-19 deaths.

• Gas crisis in Moldova following Russian retaliation: Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has for the first time challenged Russia's Gazprom following a price increase and failed contract negotiations, purchasing instead from Poland. In response, Russia has threatened to halt sales to the Eastern European country, which has previously acquired all of its gas from Gazprom.

• New UN climate report finds planned emission cuts fall short: The Emissions Gap Report 2021 concludes that country pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't large enough to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 °C degrees this century. The UN Environment Program predicts a 2.7 °C increase, with significant environmental impacts, but there is still hope that longer term net-zero goals will curtail some temperature rise.

• COVID update: As part of its long-awaited reopening, Australia will officially allow its citizens to travel abroad without a government waiver for the first time in more than 18 months. Bulgaria, meanwhile, hits record daily high COVID-19 cases as the Eastern European's hotel and restaurant association is planning protests over the implementation of the vaccination "green pass." In the U.S., a panel of government medical advisors backed the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.

• U.S. appeals decision to block Julian Assange extradition: The United States said it was "extremely disappointed" in a UK judge's ruling that Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, would be a suicide risk of he traveled across the Atlantic. In the U.S., he faces 18 charges related to the 2010 release of 500,000 secret files related to U.S. military activity.

• Deposed Sudan prime minister released: Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been released from custody, though remains under heavy guard after Sudan's military coup. Protests against the coup have continued in the capital Khartoum, as Hamdok has called for the release of other detained governmental officials.

Dune Part 2 confirmed: The world will get to see Timothée Chalamet ride a sandworm: The second installment of the sci-fi epic and global box office hit has officially been greenlit, set to hit the screens in 2023.


Front page of the National Post's October 27 front page

Canadian daily National Post reports on the nomination of Steven Guilbeault, a former Greenpeace activist, as the country's new Environment minister. He had been arrested in 2001 for scaling Toronto's CN Tower to unfurl a banner for Greenpeace, which he left in 2008.


Chinese students now required to learn to think like Xi Jinping

"Xi Jinping Thought" ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university, reports Maximilian Kalkhof in German daily Die Welt.

🇨🇳 It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader. Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself.

📚 Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

⚠️ But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation? The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

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"I'm a footballer and I'm gay."

— Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo said in a video accompanying a tweet in which he revealed his homosexuality, becoming the first top-flight male professional player in the world to do so. The 21-year-old said he was tired of living "this double life" and hoped his decision to come out would help other "players living in silence."


Why this Sudan coup d'état is different

Three days since the military coup was set in motion in Sudan, the situation on the ground continues to be fluid. Reuters reports this morning that workers at the state petroleum company Sudapet are joining a nationwide civil disobedience movement called by trade unions in response to the generals' overthrow of the government. Doctors have also announced a strike.

Generals in suits At the same time, the military appears firmly in control, with deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok allowed to return home today after being held by the coup leaders. How did we get here? That's the question that David E. Kiwuwa, a professor of international relations at the University of Nottingham, takes on in The Conversation:

"Since the revolution that deposed Omar el-Bashir in 2019, the military have fancied themselves as generals in suits. They have continued to wield enough power to almost run a parallel government in tension with the prime minister. This was evident when the military continued to have the say on security and foreign affairs.

Economy as alibi For their part, civilian officials concentrated on rejuvenating the economy and mobilizing international support for the transitional council. This didn't stop the military from accusing the civilian leadership of failing to resuscitate the country's ailing economy.

True, the economy has continued to struggle from high inflation, low industrial output and dwindling foreign direct investment. As in all economies, conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19. Sudan's weakened economy is, however, not sufficient reason for the military intervention. Clearly this is merely an excuse."

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471 million euros

Rome's Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, better known as Villa Aurora, will be put up for auction in January for 471 million euros ($547 million). The over-the-top price tag is thanks to the villa having the only known ceiling painting by Renaissance master Caravaggio.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Who wants to start the bidding on the Caravaggio villa? Otherwise, let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world!!

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