Virgilio Paz Romero

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Virgilio Pablo Paz Romero (born c. 1952) is a Cuban exile and militant who was involved in the 1976 assassination of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C.[1][2][3] Paz Romero was one of two people accused of detonating a remote-controlled car bomb that killed Letelier and a colleague in Washington's Sheridan Circle.[3]

Background[edit]

According to the National Security Archive, Virgilio Paz met DINA agent Michael Townley and Italian terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie in Madrid, in 1975, to prepare, with the help of Francisco Franco's secret police, the murder of Christian Democrat Bernardo Leighton. Leighton and his wife were severely injured on October 5, 1976, in Rome [1]. On an undated letter to Augusto Pinochet, Michael Townley advised him that Virgilio Paz Romero was taking photographs of British internment camps in Northern Ireland in 1975 as a DINA assignment. The photographs were to be used by the Chilean government at the United Nations in New York to discredit the United Kingdom and accuse them of human rights violations. But they arrived too late to be used, and were finally published in El Mercurio.[4]

Capture[edit]

Paz Romero, his wife, and two sons has lived under assumed names in the area of West Palm Beach, Florida since 1980.[1] Taking the name "Francisco Luis (Frank) Baez", Paz Romero was active in the community and owned a landscaping business in Boynton Beach, Florida since 1985.[1] On April 24, 1991, he was captured without incident while driving to work a few days after he was profiled on an episode of America's Most Wanted.[1] The segment featured an age progressed portrait of Paz Romero drawn by forensic artist Karen T. Taylor.[3]

Sentencing and imprisonment[edit]

In July 1991, Paz Romero pleaded guilty in the conspiracy to assassinate Letelier, and on September 13, 1991, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.[2] He was paroled after serving half of his sentence, and an immigration judge ordered him deported.[5] Given that the United States did not have a deportation agreement with Cuba, he was placed into indefinite custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.[5] In July 2001 after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that indefinite detentions were unconstitutional, Paul Huck of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Paz Romero released.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Golden, Tim (April 24, 1991). "Cuban Exile Is Arrested in Florida In 1976 Slaying of Chilean Envoy". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Reuters (September 13, 1991). "12-Year Term for Assassin of Chilean Envoy". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Taylor, Karen T. (2001). "Age Progression: Aging". Forensic Art and Illustration. CRC Press. pp. 274–275. ISBN 9780849381188. Retrieved December 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ Activities of Virgilio Paz in Northern Ireland during 1975, National Security Archive
  5. ^ a b c Veiga, Alex (August 2, 2001). "Cuban exile apologizes for '76 car bombing". Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Florida). Retrieved December 3, 2014.