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Venezuelans Demand Militant’s Extradition

May 29, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Tens of thousands of Venezuelans marched through the capital Saturday demanding the United States extradite a Cuban militant wanted for his alleged role in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

The protesters, supporters of President Hugo Chavez, accused President Bush of harboring the terror suspect Luis Posada Carriles and of a double standard in dealing with terrorists. Chavez is an outspoken critic of the Bush administration.

``Bush is protecting a terrorist while he is supposedly fighting against terrorism, that’s hypocrisy,″ said Pedro Caldera, a 34-year-old who works at a government-organized farming project in a Caracas suburb.

The government-sponsored march came a day after U.S. authorities rejected Venezuela’s request for the arrest of Posada as an initial step toward his eventual extradition.

Venezuela wants to try Posada, an ex-CIA operative, on murder charges for the bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane that exploded after taking off from Barbados, killing 73 people. Posada is accused of plotting the attack while in Caracas and escaping from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 as prosecutors were preparing to appeal his acquittal.

The 77-year-old naturalized Venezuelan, who is a radical opponent of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, has denied any link to the bombing.

U.S. officials have said they will not bow to pressure from Venezuela and that Caracas has yet to formally request Posada’s extradition.

Update hourly