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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Venezuelan Accused of Embassy Bombings Seeks Asylum

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A Venezuelan man accused in the 2003 bombing of Spanish and Colombian diplomatic missions in Venezuela has fled his country and is seeking asylum in the United States.  The Miami Herald reports that Raul Diaz escaped from prison while on a daytime furlough.  He traveled by boat to Trinidad and then flew to Miami. 

 Mr. Diaz denies involvement in the embassy bombings, which injured four people.   He claims that there were irregularities in his criminal proceedings and that he was detained in inhumane conditions.

Memorial to Victims of Cuban Flight 455

Since arriving in the U.S., Mr. Diaz has garnered support from the Venezuela Awareness Foundation, a human rights organization that opposes the Hugo Chavez regime.  He has also met with U.S. representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is supporting his bid for asylum and who issued a press release stating that Diaz's case was an example of the human rights violations carried out by Chavez.

While there is good reason to oppose Hugo Chavez and his dictatorial tendencies, it seems premature to embrace Mr. Diaz as deserving asylum in our country.  He has been accused of a serious crime-planting bombs that injured four people, including the wife and young daughter of a security guard.  This reminds me of the bombing of Cuban flight 455 in 1976, a terrorist attack that killed 73 people.  At least two of the men responsible for the attack are now living freely in the U.S., supported by various politicians, including Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, who is originally from Cuba and who is strongly opposed to the Castro government.  I guess I do not understand the logic of supporting terrorists who kill innocent people, just because we oppose the governments of the countries they attack. 

Perhaps Mr. Diaz is innocent, as he claims, but perhaps not.  An Asylum Officer or an Immigration Judge needs to scrutinize the case to determine whether he is eligible for asylum or whether he is barred as a terrorist.

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  1. John Wheat Gibson, Sr.'s Avatar
    What "dictatorial tendencies" is the author of this article referring to? Does Venezuela have a Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, AEDPA, or Real ID Act, like a certain dictatorship that openly practices torture, murder, and wars of aggression, which we could name?
  2. Jason Dzubow's Avatar
    Press censorship, imprisoning political opponents, and extending the term of the presidency are the ones that come to mind immediately... The Chavez government is not really the point of the article, though. The point is, certain American politicians are ready to embrace a man who may be an attempted murderer (and was convicted for terrorism in Venezuela) simply because they do not like Chavez. That is pretty rotten. Regards, Jason
  3. Honza Prchal's Avatar
    Mr. Gibson, Chavez armed supporters and civil servants and withdrew police protection for peaceful anti-Chavez demonstrators so that they could be gunned down on television as a lesson to others. He prefers informal 'people's tribunals' to military commissions, so your solicitude for rights seems more fake than real. Concerns for human rights should preceded one's political leanings, not just be used to buttress them. If they are the latter, then such protestations decrease, rather than increase your credibility.
    As for this chap's guilt or innocence, it certainly needs a fair airing out, but false-flag operations are hardly unknown in the land of Chavismo, and it'll be hard to conduct a decent or even minimally competent investigation without access to the witnesses and forensics. That said, it sure is unusual for someone who bombed embassies not to take credit for the act. The acts are, by their very nature, attention getting.
    Unfortunately, how shall we prove it one way or another? Our best evidence would likely come from intelligence sources - hardly the sort of thing one wants to air in court. Before I declare her a bozo or a savant, I am intensely interested in what information Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has access to, aren't you?
    The Congresswoman is the ranking member on Foreign Affairs. That said, so was that bozo, Frank Church, and that other bozo, Tailgunner Joe had some other committee assignments that gave him access to sensitive information until Ike fully cut him off. As I said, I am quite curious.
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