D.C., May 3,
- May 14, 2007) - A Venezuelan employee of Cuban exile
and indicted terrorist Luis Posada Carriles conducted surveillance
on targets "with a link to Cuba" for potential terrorist
attacks throughout the Caribbean region in 1976, including Cubana
Aviación flights in and out of Barbados, according to
documents posted today by the National Security Archive. At
least four targets identified in the surveillance
report -- including the Guyanese Embassy in Port-of-Spain,
Trinidad -- were subsequently bombed during the bloody summer
of anti-Castro violence in 1976, and a Cubana jet was blown
up in mid-air on October 6, 1976, after taking off from Seawell
airport in Barbados.
Posada faced charges in Venezuela for the airplane bombing,
but escaped from prison there in 1985, participated in the White
House- and CIA-sponsored Iran-contra covert operations in Central
America in the 1980s, and illegally entered the U.S. in March
2005. On May 8, a federal judge dismissed all immigration related
charges against him citing prosecutorial misconduct and incompetence
and allowed Posada to return to Miami a free man. The Department
of Homeland Security, however, has placed him on the "no-fly"
The Archive also posted additional investigative records generated
by police authorities in Trinidad following the bombing, including
drawings by Posada's employee, Hernán Ricardo Lozano,
and handwritten confessions by a second Venezuelan, Freddy Lugo,
that describe how Ricardo molded plastic explosive into a toothpaste
tube to destroy the plane, as well as Ricardo's attempts to
reach Posada via telephone after the plane went down.
"These documents provide the true historical backdrop
for the legal proceedings against Luis Posada Carriles,"
said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive's Cuba Documentation
Project. "They record the unforgettable violence of Posada's
lengthy career as one of the world's most prolific terrorists."
The surveillance document, handwritten by Ricardo, recorded
the addresses of Cuban embassies, travel offices, news agencies,
and consulates in Trinidad, Panama, Barbados and Colombia. It
also contained detailed observations about the security systems
at those buildings, and even the cars driven by Cuban diplomats.
At the Cuban embassy in Bogota, Ricardo noted, "the Ambassador's
vehicle is a 1976 steel grey Cadillac, with a black vinyl roof
and diplomatic plates CD-0046."
Ricardo's intelligence report identified the office of British
West Indian Airways (BWIA) as "the one place with a link
to Cuba" in Barbados; on July 14, 1976, the BWIA office
in Bridgetown was struck by a bomb. Six weeks later on September
1, the Guyanese Embassy in the capital of Trinidad was also
bombed. According to declassified
FBI records, the FBI attaché in Caracas who subsequently
gave Ricardo a visa to travel to the U.S. noted that Ricardo's
passport showed that he had traveled to Port-of-Spain on August
29 and returned on the day of the bombing "and wondered
in view of Ricardo's association with Luis Posada, if his presence
there during that period was coincidence."
Ricardo was an employee at Posada's security firm in Caracas,
Investigaciones Comerciales y Industriales (ICA). According
to the then police commissioner of Barbados, Orville Durant,
who traveled to Caracas after the bombing, this surveillance
report was found during searches of Posada's home and office.
(Venezuelan authorities matched the handwriting to notes Ricardo
had penned to a girlfriend at that time.) Ricardo and another
Venezuelan, Freddy Lugo, were subsequently tried and convicted
in Caracas for placing bombs on the flight before they deplaned
in Barbados. Posada and another Cuban exile, Orlando Bosch,
were also detained in Caracas as the masterminds of the crime.
Posada escaped from a Venezuelan jail in September 1985; Bosch
was released after twelve years in prison in 1988.
In a confession
to deputy police commissioner Dennis Ramdwar on October
19, 1976, Ricardo drew a diagram of the pencil detonator and
its various timing positions and explained how "a plastic
bomb was detonated." He also wrote out a list
of necessities for blowing up a plane which included "false
documentation," and "explosivo C-4." On a separate
piece of paper, Ricardo drew a crude organizational
chart of CORU, the violent anti-Castro exile coalition led
by Orlando Bosch which took credit for the terrorist wave of
bombings and assassination efforts in the summer of 1976.
Like Posada who illicitly returned to the Miami area in March
of 2005, Bosch entered the U.S. illegally in 1988 and was detained
at an immigration detention center for over a year. In July
17, 1990, he was freed by the administration of George H.W.
Bush, over the objections of Justice Department officials who
had determined he remained a threat to the security of U.S.
In a handwritten
and signed confession dated October 21, 1976, Lugo told
police authorities in Trinidad that Ricardo had repeatedly tried
to call a "Sr. Pan y Agua"-Mr. Bread and Water-in
Caracas after the plane went down. "I asked him who Mr.
Pan y Agua was because I found it amusing that someone would
have that name," Lugo wrote, "and he told me that
it was a dear friend of his named Orlando Bosch." Lugo
also recounted how Ricardo had called his mother and told her
"to give the telephone number of the Village Beach Hotel
in Barbados to Mr. Luis Posada so that he could call and to
tell him that there was a problem."
In a separate
statement dated October 16, Lugo told authorities in Trinidad
that before Lugo and Ricardo boarded Cubana Flight 455 in Trinidad,
he had seen Ricardo "playing with something that looked
like dough of a whitish or beige color; he was softening it.
He also had a tube of toothpaste, Colgate, on the table and
it was full as if new."
Bosch has lived freely in the Miami area for seventeen years;
in various interviews he has all but admitted a role in the
bombing of flight 455. Posada was freed on bail on April 18;
on May 8, a federal judge tossed out charges of lying to immigration
authorities regarding how he arrived in the United States. A
grand jury in New Jersey is weighing evidence of Posada's role
in orchestrating a series of hotel bombings in Havana in 1997,
using plastic explosives hidden in Prell shampoo bottles and
following documents are in PDF format.
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1: Hernán Ricardo Lozano, [Handwritten Intelligence
Report on Targets with "a link to Cuba" in Barbados,
Colombia, Panama, and Trinidad]
These are the scouting notes of Hernán
Ricardo Lozano, which Venezuelan authorities reportedly found
in the office of Luis Posada Carriles in Caracas shortly after
the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 on October 6, 1976. Ricardo's
report covers Barbados, Colombia, Panama and Trinidad, and details
the location and security of offices belonging to Cubana Airlines,
Prensa Latina, as well as Cuban Embassies and consulates and
the Guyanese Consulate in Trinidad. The report also tracked
the flight schedules of Cubana planes in and out of the Barbados
and other Caribbean nations. The intelligence provided by Hernán
Ricardo Lozano became a roadmap for at least four terrorist
attacks in these countries between July and October 1976, as
well as the mid air bombing of Cubana Flight 455. [English
2: Graphology Division of the Venezuelan Judicial Police,
October 20, 1976 [Handwriting analysis report on documents collected
in Caracas, Venezuela]
In the course of their investigations, Venezuelan authorities
conducted a handwriting analysis of the surveillance report
on Colombia, Panama, Trinidad, and Barbados [see document 1]
uncovered during a raid in Caracas. They compared this document
to a letter signed "Hernan" to Ricardo's girlfriend
Marines Vega, and to writing samples collected from prominent
Caracas figures connected to Cuban exile terrorism, including
Celsa Toledo Alemán, Gueton Oleg Rodríguez de
la Sierra Tretiacooff, Luis Posada Carriles, and Orlando Bosch
Avila. The report concludes that the script of the letter and
the report belonged to the same individual, but that none of
the writing samples matched the other names.
3: Hernán Ricardo Lozano, "D.R. 12" [Diagram
of the detonator device], October 19, 1976
4: Hernán Ricardo Lozano, "D.R. 13" [Organizational
diagram of CORU], October 19, 1976
Trinidad and Tobago Deputy Commissioner of Police Dennis Ramdwar
directed the inquiries into the crash of Cubana Airline Flight
455. In a sworn
statement on October 28, 1976, he recounts the progression
of interviews with Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo Lozano. On
October 19, 1976, at 8:30 in the evening, Hernán Ricardo
Lozano requested to see Commissioner Ramdwar and during the
course of the conversation, Ricardo confessed to Ramdwar:
"He hesitated for a while and then told me, saying that
it was in the greatest confidence, that LUGO and himself bombed
the plane. He asked me for a sheet of paper and in his own handwriting
recorded the steps to be taken before a bomb was placed in an
aircraft and how a plastic bomb is detonated. This document
is marked 'D.R. 12' for identification. On the obverse side
of the document, he drew a sketch of the bomb and detonator
and described the detonator as a pencil-type with chemicals
which could be timed for 8 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours,
3 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. He said that these
pencil-type detonators were of various colors depending on the
time at which the bomb was to be detonated. He took a pencil
from my desk and told me that that pencil resembled one of the
detonators he had described. He said that a certain chemical
is filled in a tube of Colgate toothpaste after the toothpaste
is extracted. This pencil is in my possession. He went on to
tell me that he knew everything about the Organization 'COROU'
[Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU)].
He requested another sheet of paper and on this sheet of paper
he drew the organizational chart […] This document is
marked 'D.R. 13' for identification."
5: Freddy Lugo, "D.R. 11" [Lugo describes Ricardo
with toothpaste and plastic explosives], October 16, 1976
In a sworn statement before Trinidad and Tobago Deputy Commissioner
of Police Dennis Ramdwar, Venezuelan bombing suspect Freddy
Lugo described how he witnessed fellow suspect Hernan Ricardo
playing with a whitish dough and a full tube of Colgate toothpaste,
which Ricardo then hid in his shirt. Shortly thereafter, the
two men boarded Flight 455 as it took off from Trinidad. After
the men disembarked in Barbados, "Hernan told the taxi
driver to stop in front of a side-street near the wharf. He
got out of the taxi, went up to the edge of the wharf and threw
something in the sea."
6: Freddy Lugo, "D.R. 15" [Lugo Confession of
Calls Placed to Posada and Bosch by Hernan Ricardo], October
Lugo recounts how an agitated Hernan Ricardo Lozano placed
several calls to Caracas shortly after arriving in Barbados.
He called his mother, asking her to call Luis Posada Carriles
and give him the number of the Village Beach of Hotel in Barbados
"so that he could call and to tell him that there was a
problem." He also placed a call to his girlfriend and requested
that she give their hotel number to "Sr. Pan y Agua,"
the code name for Orlando Bosch. [English
7: Freddy Lugo, "D.R. 9" [Lugo Confession to Trinidadian
Police], October 16, 1976
In this confession-one of several that Freddy Lugo made to
Deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Ramdwar in Trinidad following
the bombing of Flight 455-Lugo recounts that Hernan Ricardo
Lozano "told me that he had a false passport and also that
he was going to blow up a Cubana airplane. I laughed because
I thought that he was joking." On the Pan-Am flight from
Caracas to Trinidad, Ricardo also commented that "Messers.
Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada must have been worrying about
him." Once in Trinidad, Lugo said he wanted to take the
next available flight to the Barbados, but Ricardo replied they
would wait for the Cubana flight: "Él me dijo que
quería viajar en Cubana porque iba a volar ese avión"
["he told me that he wanted to travel on Cubana because
he was going to blow up that airplane"]. When a Trinidadian
police officer or a translator present asked Lugo to clarify,
"What do you mean by the word 'volar'?" Lugo replied,
"By 'volar' I mean 'to make disappear.'"
Lugo also describes a "very nervous" Ricardo going
to the bathroom twenty minutes after Flight 455 took off from
Trinidad to Barbados. He took such "a long time" that
an airline stewardess and a pilot had to knock on the door.
When the plane landed, Hernan Ricardo "jumped from his
seat and hurried to the door" to be one of first passengers
to disembark. Once in Barbados, the two men checked into the
Village Beach Hotel and left their luggage there. They then
boarded a plane for Trinidad, where they spent the night in
the Holiday Inn. On the morning of October 7, 1976, Ricardo
gave Lugo U.S. $300 "to spend in Barbados and told me that
if anyone asked me about that money to say it was mine."
They were arrested shortly thereafter by Trinidadian police.
Ricardo instructed Lugo to tell the police that he had given
2,500 bolivares to Ricardo to purchase his tickets and that
the $300 in Lugo's possession was the rest of his money.