Luis Posada and the Panama plot

Panama City, Panama
November 17, 2000

Less than a month before the trial of the Cuban Five was to begin in Miami, Luis Posada and three accomplices were arrested in Panama City. 

In a dramatic turn of events, Castro himself had revealed the existence of this particular plot against him—and conveniently informed authorities that the plotters were staying at the nearby Coral Suites Hotel. During a press conference with selected reporters on the eve of a summit of Ibero-American leaders, Castro identified Posada as his chief would-be assassin and claimed the Cuban American National Foundation was the plot’s financial puppet master. Panamanian authorities, Castro said, now had “the duty to find the chief terrorist and his accomplices, to make sure they don’t escape by air, land or sea, to arrest them and to submit them to the proper courts.”

Luis Posada

Luis Posada

Stunned by those unexpected revelations, Panamanian officials did just that. They arrested the four at their hotel and later recovered a Florida Marlins’ black-and-aqua bag stuffed with “enough plastic explosives to level a building and kill people up to 200 meters away.”

How did the Cubans know about the plot? The same way they knew about so many others, of course. They had at least one agent inside—or close to—those planning the attack.