Granma International
August 7, 2002

Posada in El Renacer, 60 meters from the Panama Canal

                   BY JEAN GUY ALLARD (Special for Granma International)

                   LUIS Posada Carriles is the man who attempted to blow up a
                   Panamanian university auditorium packed with students in November
                   2000 in order to assassinate the Cuban president; his history
                   encompasses 40 years of terrorist crimes, including a mid-flight
                   explosion aboard a Cuban aircraft. He and his three accomplices are
                   currently being detained in an “open prison” located 60 kilometers
                   from the Panama Canal, dreaming of a swift escape at the first

                   Posada Carriles shares the title of “the most dangerous terrorist in
                   the hemisphere” along with psychopath pediatrician Orlando Bosch.
                   He is currently being held together with his three hired killers —
                   Gasper Jiménez Escobedo, Guillermo Novo and Pedro Remón — in El
                   Renacer (The Rebirth) Rehabilitation Center, a modern prison
                   complex near Panama City. The jail is famous for allowing its guests
                   to leave the premises, depending on their generosity, of course.

                   In the latest roundtable transmitted by Cuban television on the
                   theme, journalist and deputy Lazaro Barredo explained how, in a
                   recent visit to the prison with a Latin American inter-parliamentary
                   delegation, he discovered that at any given time, El Renacer prison
                   officers “sell” temporary leave passes to gang leaders. Once on
                   temporary leave, these capos make the most of their liberty, settling
                   scores in specific neighborhoods of the capital.

                   After investigating the subject, Granma International can confirm
                   this situation. Take the case of U.S. heroin trafficker Michael
                   Sutherland, who walked out of the modern prison “in error.”

                   INTERPOL, the international police organization, was waiting for that
                   individual to complete a prison term on the lesser charge of drugs
                   possession in order to question him about their much more serious
                   suspicions that he was responsible for a drug trafficking operation
                   involving 15 kilograms of heroin.

                   In line with normal procedures, Sutherland was to be handed over to
                   the immigration services when his sentence had ended. Those
                   services determine whether or not a person should be deported or
                   be tried on other charges.

                   But, with conspicuous naiveté, the prison authorities opened the
                   prison doors very wide, authorizing...a tremendous rebirth.
                   Sutherland never surfaced in the country again.


                   Concepción Corro, director of the National Penitentiary System
                   (SNP), explained to the press that Sutherland’s flight was attributed
                   to a “lack of communication between the institutions responsible for
                   security, and other vigilance agencies.”

                   That explanation would be more valid if El Renacer had a different

                   Nevertheless, the Panamanian prison’s archives highlight a recent
                   situation that supports concerns in relation to the “model” prison
                   that, without a shadow of a doubt, offers enviable comfort to its

                   A few months ago, the Panama City media revealed that the
                   country’s police chief Carlos Bares had informed a press conference
                   that “a group of police agents” were “under investigation after being
                   implicated in irregular custodial and supervision activities in El Renacer
                   Penitentiary Center.”

                   According to the Panamanian daily La Prensa, Bares “confirmed that
                   the police department’s Professional Responsibility Office (ORP) had
                   submitted a report on the irregularities and an unspecified number of
                   police units were being removed.”

                   During the press conference, Bares announced that a deputy
                   commissioner, a sub-lieutenant, a National Police first sergeant and a
                   National Air Service (SAN) chief had been removed from their posts
                   and arrested for alleged links with a criminal organization dedicated
                   to drug trafficking, and from whom a 1000-kilogram consignment of
                   cocaine had been seized on November 10, 2002.

                   It subsequently emerged that first sergeant Victor Quintero, chief
                   bodyguard for Rosendo Miranda, district attorney for drug
                   prosecutions, was among the suspects.


                   In March, the Miami media and mafia circles were already celebrating
                   the awaited declaration of Posada Carriles’ “innocence” in Panama
                   and the announcement of his possible release by his drugs lawyer —
                   a former district attorney well known for his involvement with his
                   country’s drug barons.

                   After reports in the Miami media that the Panamanian district
                   attorney had decided that there was insufficient evidence to try
                   Posada Carriles and his accomplices for intent to murder —despite a
                   large body of evidence provided by Cuba — defense lawyer Rogelio
                   Cruz dared to predict that his four terrorists would be released on
                   bail before May.

                   The prediction was not worth as much as the applause he later
                   received from those paying for his highly professional services.

                   Given that they have not as yet been released, Cruz and his clients,
                   regularly represented in Panama by terrorist Santiago Alvarez — at
                   large in spite of his part in the conspiracy —continue dreaming up
                   another way of accessing their freedom.

                   Thus Posada acquired a judge’s order admitting him to the San
                   Fernando Private Hospital, after complaining of “heart problems, skin
                   cancer, arterial hypertension and trouble with his middle ear causing
                   him to suffer loss of balance.” An impressive collection of disorders
                   for a 74-year-old man who, just 18 months earlier, was feverishly
                   running around Panama with a cache of explosives.

                   As is well known in Panama, the penitentiary system’s general office
                   regulations stipulate that prisoners requiring hospital treatment
                   should be taken to Ward 31 of the Santo Tomas Hospital, thereby
                   fulfilling a technical cooperation agreement between the Government
                   and Justice and Health Ministries.

                   But according to Cruz, after originally being sent to Santo Tomas
                   State Hospital by prison doctors, “Posada was removed from Ward
                   31 for criminals due to the presence of six AIDS patients with

                   The drug lawyer immediately obtained an order from magistrate
                   Joaquin Ortega — highly implicated in the case — and Posada Carriles
                   was taken to a private hospital “to receive specialist medical care.”

                   The Cuban government’s strong denunciation of the situation
                   apparently put an end to any ideas Posada had of fleeing. It should
                   be remembered that some years ago, he escaped from a
                   Venezuelan jail disguised as a priest, under the well-paid gaze of his

                   For many observers, Posada Carriles’ arrival at El Renacer
                   Rehabilitation Center and reunion with the rest of his terrorist gang,
                   looks like another attempt to illegally spirit him out of the country.
                   The move adds to the Panamanian authorities’ unjustifiable rejection
                   of an extradition request by the Cuban government, a lack of
                   response to the Venezuelan government’s extradition request, the
                   many legal irregularities and constant visits to Panama by big-time
                   Miami mafia members.

                   Ministry of Government and Justice figures on June 17, 2002, inform
                   that the Republic of Panama’s prison population is 10,093; the
                   country’s prisons have space for 7,348 detainees.

                   It is more than likely that those 10,000 prisoners do not have the
                   right to a similar level of detention and medical care.

                   CALLS FOR JUDGE TO BE FIRED

                   Meanwhile, various Panamanian organizations are demanding the
                   dismissal of Judge Joaquin Ortega, due to repeated irregularities in
                   the Posada Carriles case. A legal process has been brought before
                   the Supreme Court by representatives of the United Trade Unions
                   National Council (CONUSI), the Organized Workers National Council
                   (CONATO), the Construction and Affiliated Workers Trade Union
                   (SUNTRACS), Native Peoples’ organizations, and university groups
                   whose members were present at the Paraninfo University in
                   November 2000, when Posada Carriles and his hired killers
                   attempted to assassinate President Fidel Castro.

                   The plaintiffs state that Ortega’s conduct disqualifies him from
                   continuing in the trial of Posada Carriles and his four accomplices.

                   It is highly significant that Judge Ortega has refused to talk to the
                   Panamanian press on the subject.

                   It’s also worth remembering that Luis Posada Carriles was a CIA
                   agent, recruited on the eve of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Apart
                   from his terrorist trail, Posada found fame in Central America as Felix
                   Rodriguez’ right-hand man. Rodriguez was George Bush’s trusty aide
                   in the Iran-Contra drug trafficking scandal.