“Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy!" Ted Turner gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech in 1997. "You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him."
Within weeks CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. Bureau chief Lucia Newman (now with Al Jazeera) assured viewers, "CNN will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without censorship."
Hard-hitting stories immediately followed. To wit: CNN soon featured Fidel's office in its "Cool Digs" segment of CNN's "Newsstand." "When was the last time you saw a cup full of pencils on the boss's desk?" asked perky CNN anchor Steven Frazier. "And they do get used – look at how worn down the erasers are! Years ago, our host worked as an attorney, defending poor people. ... He's Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader since 1959!"
“No dubious campaign spending here [in Cuba].” Reported Lucia Newman a bit later during some Castroite “elections.” “No mud slinging -- a system President [italics mine] Castro boasts is the most democratic and cleanest in the world!”
This week CNN’s Patrick Oppmann “reports” on the trial in Texas of Cuban- exile and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles for lying to U.S. immigration authorities when he re-entered the U.S. in 2005. Some background: Mr Posada volunteered for the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and later joined the U.S. army emerging as a 2nd Lieutenant. After retiring from the U.S. Army he worked for the CIA putting out Soviet-started fires throughout Latin America. Among other projects, Posada helped the Reagan team squash Communism in Nicaragua by helping arms and train the Nicaraguan Contras. A few years later in Guatemala a Castro appointed death-squad ambushed Posada, riddled him with bullets and left him crippled.
“Posada is accused by the Cuban government of blowing up a commercial airliner,” continues CNN’s Oppmann. “…The bomb exploded shortly after Cubana Flight 455 took off from Barbados, killing all 73 passengers and crew aboard…Following the crash, Posada was arrested and tried in Venezuela where he had worked for the country's intelligence services. While awaiting trial for the airplane bombing, he escaped from jail.”
CNN omits an important detail: Posada was in fact TRIED twice for the airplane bombing--and ACQUITTED twice. Ah, the devil is in the details, right CNN? More important still, these court rulings found Posada innocent of any material or even intellectual culpability for the crime.
The evidence examined by Venezuelan judge José Moros González in 1980 to declare Posada totally innocent was so overwhelming, authoritative and conclusive that its small wonder Castro’s propaganda apparatus and his auxiliaries in the U.S. media have been so frantic to squash it. Among this evidence was a 200-page report from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory of Britain’s Royal Armament Research & Development Establishment, (ARDE) considered among the most authoritative for investigations of this kind. (This agency helped crack the July 2005 London subway bombings, for instance.)
The investigation into the Cubana Airline’s explosion was commissioned and the report issued, not by “right-wing Cuban-American crackpots!” but by the government of Barbados, the nation from where the plane had departed shortly before the explosion. The investigators and authorities from Barbados retrieved bodies, baggage and portions of the plane found at the crash site. The investigation took the British agency two months and was headed by the agency’s top expert, Eric Newton, a 33-year veteran of such investigations.
The findings from the world’s top investigative agency methodically demolished every item of the Castro-CNN version of the crime. Castro, for instance, claims that, at Carriles’ instigation, an explosive device was planted in the rear bathroom of the plane by a Venezuelan named Hernan Ricardo, who boarded the plane on its previous stop in Trinidad and de-planed in Barbados. Carriles’ defense lawyers argued that the explosive device was planted in the baggage compartment of the plane at the instigation of a Castro double-agent named Ricardo Morales Navarette, during a stop in Guyana.
“It would have been impossible for an explosion in the plane’s bathroom to cause the type of damage we found,” concluded the ARDE report. “The explosion definitely came from the baggage compartment.”
Castro claims Carriles’s accomplice used a type of explosive device known as C-4. Defense lawyers maintained Castro’s accomplice used commercial dynamite. The ARDE report found “no traces of any chemical found in C-4 explosives” and instead found traces of nitroglycerine, a component of commercial dynamite.
More interesting still: ARDE investigators offered to raise the entire plane from the sea’s bottom — and were frantically rebuffed by Fidel Castro himself, who knew this would further damage his case against Carriles. (but not with such as CNN.)
Finally, a confession to the plane bombing exists, in the form of deposition in Dade County’s 11th Judicial court dated April, 5 1982 — and it’s from a Castro double-agent named Ricardo Morales Navarette. Another detail for you, CNN.
“It may be dangerous to be America’s enemy,” quipped Henry Kissinger in 1968, “but to be America’s friend is fatal.” The U.S. vs Luis Posada-Carriles provides perfect proof.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.