Cuba, Panama Restore Diplomatic Ties
Cuba and Panama restored diplomatic ties Saturday, one year after they were severed when Panama’s previous president pardoned four Cuban exiles accused of trying to assassinate President Fidel Castro.
Castro and Panamanian President Martin Torrijos looked on as a document was signed in Havana declaring normalized relations “inspired by the spirit of fraternity that has always linked these two countries.”
Torrijos had opposed the pardons issued last August by his predecessor, Mireya Moscoso, five days before she left office.
Torrijos’ father, Omar, was a populist military strongman who had friendly relations with Castro. Before the pardons, the two nations had been on relatively good terms since the early 1970s.
Luis Posada Carriles, Gaspar Jimenez, Guillermo Novo and Pedro Remon were charged in connection with the plot to kill Castro but ended up going to prison on lesser charges.
They were allowed to go free on Moscoso’s orders.
Castro publicly accused Posada of leading the plan to kill him at a summit in Panama in November 2000.
Havana also accuses Posada of helping blow up a civilian Cuban airliner in 1976, killing 73 people, and of overseeing the bombings of hotels in Cuba in 1997.
Venezuela is urging the U.S. government to extradite Posada, who has been held at a federal detention center in Texas since May on charges he illegally entered the United States through Mexico.
Venezuelan courts twice acquitted Posada in the airliner bombing. He escaped from a Caracas jail in 1985 while an appeal was pending.