Luis Posada Carriles, a militant and former CIA operative who was lauded by many in the Cuban exile community for his efforts to overthrow Fidel Castro, has died, according to The Associated Press. He was 90.
“An extraordinary life has ended,” Arturo Hernandez, a lawyer for the hardline exile, told the AP. “It’s a very sad morning for me, to say farewell to such a great man.”
Others were less admiring.
Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project, told The New York Times that Posada “was an international terrorist of the first order.”
Kornbluh told the AP: “The CIA created and unleashed a Frankenstein.”
As NPR’s Greg Myre reported, Posada fled Cuba soon after Castro came to power in 1959. He was among the exiles who trained for the Bay of Pigs invasion, but the CIA-backed operation fell apart before his plane could take off, The New York Times reported.
Posada was accused of organizing the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner that killed more than 70 people, including teens from Cuba’s national fencing team. He denied the accusation.
He also was accused of organizing a string of hotel bombings in Havana that killed an Italian tourist and wounded 12 people.
In 2004, he was convicted and jailed in Panama for his role in a failed assassination attempt on Castro. He was pardoned in 2005.
Posada remained fervent in his opposition to Castro, telling AP during a series of interviews between 2009 and 2010: “If Castro came through the door, I’d kill him, not because I hate him but because I’d kill a cockroach, too.”
Posada, who died in a hospital north of Miami, is survived by two children.