Virgilio Paz Romero

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Virgilio Pablo Paz Romero (born November 20, 1951) 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]

Early life[edit]

Paz's family left Santa Clara, Cuba in the mid-1960s when he was 14.[4] In 1966 while his family was in Mexico City awaiting papers to emigrate to the United States, Paz's father died.[4] He settled in a Cuban community in New Jersey with his mother.[4] When he was 16, Paz was the youngest member of the Cuban Nationalist Movement.[4]

Assassination of Orlando Letelier[edit]

On September 21, 1976, Orlando Letelier drove colleagues Michael and Ronni Moffitt to work at the Institute for Policy Studies in his Chevrolet Chevelle.[4] Paz and Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel followed in sedan.[4] Paz detonated a bomb placed under Letelier's car as it reached Sheridan Circle on Washington's Embassy Row.[4] The blast killed Letelier and Ronni Moffit.[4]


Paz Romero, his wife, a son and a daughter 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]

Murder of Carmelo Soria[edit]

In May 2016, the Supreme Court of Chile voted unanimously to request that the United States extradite Paz, Chilean Armando Fernandez Larios, and American Michael Townley who were wanted for the July 1976 detention, torture, and murder of Carmelo Soria, a Spanish-Chilean citizen and United Nations diplomat.[6] The three men were former agents of Augusto Pinochet's secret police Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional.[2][7]


  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 c 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. ^ a b c d e f g h Pape, Eric (July 21, 2002). "A Terrorist's Second Thoughts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  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. 
  6. ^ "Chile asks U.S. to extradite suspects in 1976 murder of diplomat". Reuters. May 17, 2016. 
  7. ^ Vergara, Eva (May 17, 2016). "Chile to request US extradite 3 in killing of UN diplomat". Associated Press.