On Nov. 14 a federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, sentenced Cuban American business leader Santiago Alvarez to 46 months in prison for conspiracy to possess an arsenal; his employee, Osvaldo Mitat, received a sentence of 39 months. Both had pleaded guilty to avoid more serious charges; they have been in prison since November 2005, and this will count as time served. Although the US did not charge Alvarez with planning to use the arms against Cuba, the Cuban government has accused him of financing operations against it.
Alvarez has been a prominent supporter of Cuban-born rightwinger Luis Posada Carriles, who is currently in immigration detention in Texas but faces charges in Venezuela for allegedly masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Avacion airliner in which 73 people died. Alvarez paid for Posada’s defense team when he was charged with conspiracy to assassinate Cuban president Fidel Castro in Panama in 2000; Alvarez also paid Posada’s legal costs for his current immigration case. The Cuban government says Alvarez was in fact the one who smuggled Posada into the US, using a private boat. (La Jornada, Nov. 15 from AFP) [Alvarez also provided the plane in which Posada left Panama after he was pardoned in August 2004.]
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 19