US groups back Cuba's charges against US diplomats

US groups back Cuba's charges against US diplomatsWashington - A coalition of US activist groups Tuesday charged that the United States has allowed a known terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, to agitate for violence against Cuba while funnelling tainted money to human rights activists in the Caribbean country.

Brian Becker, coordinator of Act Now to Stop the War and End Racism (ANSWER), demanded that the US bring formal terrorism charges against Posada, who has been the subject of requests for extradition for years by Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Becker appeared at a press conference with the one-time chief of the US Interests Section in Havana, Wayne Smith; Venezuela's attorney on the Posada extradition, Jose Perteirra; and a group that wants five Cubans jailed in the US to be released.

Their charges came in a week of rising tensions over US-Cuba relations.

On Monday, the Cuban government accused the top US diplomat in Havana, Michael Parmly, of providing money from exiled groups in the United States to dissidents on the communist island.

Cuban officials said Parmley passed money that came from the Miami-based foundation Rescate Juridico, which is reportedly funded by Santiago Alvarez Fernandez-Magrina, an anti-Castro activist jailed in the United States for illegal possession of firearms.

On Tuesday, the US State Department called for solidarity for jailed Cuban rights activists, while on Wednesday, US President George W Bush is to mark Cuban Independence Day with a renewed declaration of Washington's tough sanctions against the communist governed island jsut 100 kilometres off its Florida shore.

Becker, Smith and Perteirra greeted Cuba's revelations about the Santiago Alvarez connections, adding that the same man had also provided funds for Posada Carriles.

Posada Carriles, 80, is accused by Havana and Caracas of the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner which killed 73 people. He was convicted in Venezuela of being one of the masterminds of the bombing, but he escaped from prison after eight years and joined US-directed covert counterinsurgency operations in Central America.

He entered the US illegally in 2005, and was detained by US officials. But the US refused extradition requests from Cuba and Venezuela, and in 2007 dropped charges against him on immigration fraud.

Since then, he has moved freely among the Cuban exile community in Florida, where he is regarded as a hero. He was recently widely quoted as telling a Miami gathering held in his honor that they should sharpen their knives.

"Liberty is not something we must beg for. It is conquered with the sharp edge of the machete," he has been quoted as saying. (dpa)

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