Attorneys in Texas are in the process of selecting the twelve people that will make up the jury in the trial of Fidel Castro’s number one nemesis, Luis Posada Carriles.
The 82 year-old ex-CIA operative is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying about how he arrived in the U.S., and about whether he tried to cover up his involvement in the 1997 Havana hotel bombings so he could obtain U.S. citizenship.
Posada claimed to have entered the U.S.in 2007 by crossing the Mexican border into Texas. Prosecutors say he actually arrived in Miami on the boat of friend, and using a fake passport. Although he pleaded not guilty, Posada noted that for years he entered the U.S. under false identities while working with the CIA and other organizations.
“The people who worked with me from the government are not the same the ones there today. It was other times. For those there today, I am a bad guy,” he acknowledged.
Posada, a chemist by trade, arrived in Miami in 1961. Like many of his contemporaries, he played a role in the U.S.-backed, ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. He joined the U.S. military, graduated from officer training at Fort Benning, Ga., and became a CIA operative, maintaining contact with the agency even after he moved to Venezuela in the late 1960s to head that country’s intelligence agency.
The CIA has said it cut ties to him when he was linked to a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that took off from Venezuela. He is wanted in both countries in connection with the bombing.
On Monday, about 30 protesters in front of the federal courthouse in El Paso hoisted signs in English and Spanish denouncing Posada as a terrorist. Down the block, a smaller group waved American flags and signs calling him a patriot and American hero.
Posada sits in jail painting as he waits for his court date. Bullet scars from an assassination attempt in 1999 crowd his face and make speaking and swallowing difficult. He reportedly prefers to talk about his art, and is quick to laugh and shrug off accusations, or questions regarding the bombings.
“If I go to jail, my life ends in jail,” he said to reporters. “Everything is finished.”