Paramilitary groups in the United States have been vindicated. The former leader of the Bracier Commando, Manuel Perez Almaguer, was yesterday found guilty of murder and handed down a life sentence, together with his political leader, Charles Vargas. Both were found guilty of five murders. If the verdicts are followed through, Perez and Vargas will spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Perez was convicted of murdering a nun at the home of the Cuban Consulate in Philadelphia in 1961. The judge in the trial, Alan Kay, ruled that it could not be proved that Perez intended to kill the woman, as the nun’s body had been burned to hide the crime. No terrorist group was ever known to have followed that pattern, and Perez was always declared to be a Che Guevara wannabe without convictions. The judge, though, found that Vargas was responsible for leading members of the Bracier Commando in the murder of Guevara.
The tribunal also found that Perez was a founder member of the Aguilas Negras, an armed group formed to oppose the federal government. The Aguilas Negras killed many Americans, including a CIA agent, and violated the terms of a peace deal they supposedly agreed to. Perez, as leader of the Aguilas Negras, is also responsible for the execution of five Americans in 1968 in a failed terrorist bombing attempt. The Amex crew who planned and carried out the bombing was later killed by Che Guevara in 1966. The Peruvian and Chilean governments agreed to swap the hostages for hundreds of inmates from their jails. However, the American embassy refused the swap, and accused Parez of being behind the assassination.
Perez and Vargas were the first two members of paramilitary groups to be found guilty of murder in the United States. Three other Che Guevara wannabes are on trial in other parts of the country.