International News

Luis Posada Carilles Led 400 Men to Assassinate Venezuela's President, Caracas Says

There's no question that in his day, no anti-Castro terrorist was more feared than Luis Posada Carilles. The Miami-based Cuban-American has been convicted abroad for roles in everything from the 1976 bombing that took down a Cuban airliner to a string of Havana hotel bombings in the late '90s.

But memo to Caracas: Posada is 85 years old. He's reportedly in frail health. So take with a hefty grain of salt new accusations this morning from the Venezuelan government that Posada led a recent plot that sent 400 mercenaries through Colombia on a mission to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro.

The accusations come from Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela's national assembly president, on state-run television.

"The plans to physically eliminate Maduro are under way," Cabello told audiences, the Herald reports. "Where is this coming from? Miami... from Cubans who went there many years ago -- who are living there -- and have contact with Venezuela."

Specifically, Cabello says Posada worked with Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe to raise $2.5 million and to train the 400 guns for hire to infiltrate Venezuela through its border state Zulia.

The plot was foiled, Cabello says, before a planned attempt on Maduro's life Saturday could be carried out.

Posada certainly is no friend to the Castros or their close allies in Venezuela. He's still wanted in both nations for his supposed ties to the 1976 airline attack that killed 78 people. A lengthy federal case against Posada ended in 2011 with a jury acquitting him of all charges; he's believed to be quietly living in Miami again.

However, not only is Posada pushing his ninth decade, but also Venezuela's government has a history of cooking up assassination stories to cover up looming financial and social problems.

As Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader who lost a close election to Maduro, says on Twitter: "Once again, the corrupt ones are talking about a supposed assassination attempt to distract our nation... Nobody believes them."

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink