Mark Falcoff: Code Pink lends a hand to Hugo Chavez

Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute. Today he writes to provide some background on a story involving Code Pink at work in Miami:

One of today’s more bizarre news stories has to do with a demonstration which the Code Pink ladies tried to stage in Miami’s Little Havana, protesting the presence in the United States of Luis Posada Carriles. The locals, mostly Cubans who have fled Castro’s island prison, became a bit angry and began to chase the ladies out of the area with some choice comments.
Code Pink is, as everyone who reads the blogs knows, an organization of “peace ladies” led by Medea Benjamin, a far-Left activist who once described Castro’s gulag as a “socialist paradise.”
The choice of little Havana and Posada Carriles seems bizarre at first. After all, what’s that got to do with the Iraq war, the principal target of Code Pink protests? The answer sheds a lot of light on the role of the media and the way that left-wing agitators are endlessly creative in their efforts to stay in the headlines.
For those who haven’t followed the story, here is the background. Luis Posada Carriles is one of those soldiers of fortune who worked with the CIA cowboys in Central America during the Cold War. (Exactly what he did is not known with any degree of precision.) After Castro’s takeover in Cuba he had taken refuge in Venezuela and acquired Venezuelan citizenship. Sometime in the late 1970s he was accused of having planted a bomb on a jetliner which was carrying members of a Cuban sports team. Everybody on the plane–Cubans and non-Cubans–perished.
Posada Carriles was subsequently tried in Venezuelan courts and found innocent of all charges. However, Venezuelan law does allow a person to be tried for the same crime more than once.
Thus when Chavez came to power in 1998, Posada Carriles — knowing of Hugo’s close relationship to Fidel — thought it the better part of valor to flee the country. He entered the United States illegally through the Texas-Mexican border.
Normally the correct procedure would be to extradite him to Venezuela and allow him to face trial again. However, Chavez has already declared that “he doesn’t need a trial; we already know he’s guilty.” This of course puts the United States in the impossible position being unable to extradite Posada Carriles at all.
As for Chavez, his comments weren’t just spur of the moment observations; the ugly truth is he doesn’t want Posada Carriles back in his country. He’s worth far more to the Venezuelan strongman and his Cuban friends living here — even in confinement or under house arrest–where he can be pointed out repeatedly as living proof that the US harbors and condones terrorists as long as they are “on our side.”
Meanwhile, while the US can’t extradite him, it can — and has–charged him with illegal entry. That’s pretty small beer compared to the crimes of which he has been charged, but there isn’t much else that we can do.
The Code Pink ladies understand that these complexities are not generally known by the public — and certainly the MSM has done nothing to enlighten it — so they decided to make a big fuss in Miami knowing perfectly well the kind of hot reception they would get. Their purpose was not to convince the Cuban emigre community that Posada Carriles is a criminal. They did this to make sure the “Posada Carriles/plane bomb/terrorist/US complicity” meme landed once again on the front pages of our papers — and not just our papers, but the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, etc.. Time will tell whether they have succeeded.

JOHN adds: The photo below shows a group of anti-Communist Cuban-Americans waiting for the Code Pinkers to show up:
Reuters accompanies the photo with this rather weird caption:

A Cuban-American wears a t-shirt depicting revolutionary icon Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara as he waits for Code Pink, an anti-war organization, who were holding a protest against Cuban activist Luis Posada Carriles in Miami’s Littlle Havana January 12, 2008.

You’d almost think they missed the point of the t-shirt.
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