Recently, President Obama made the surprising announcement that the United States would begin normalizing relations with Cuba. A relationship that has not been “normal” since the early 60’s towards the beginning of the Cold War. The Castro boys, Raoul and Fidel, are no doubt elated and beside themselves, dreaming of American wealth and influence that will be streaming into their island nation. Even though capitalism still sucks.
And the best part? They didn’t have to give up a thing! They will still be able to be the dictators they have always been, and oversee the same brutal tyrannical regime they always have. There will be no economic boon for the average Cuban citizen, no easing of internet access, no freedom of speech or expression. And now, it will get some much-needed financing. Among all of the details that need ironing out, the question of political prisoner swaps and the release of dissidents are on the table. There is also the question of fugitives from American justice that need to be answered before the resort planners and the boys from McDonald’s fly in, blueprints in hand.
Currently, it is estimated that around 70 fugitives from the United States are in Cuba, many having been granted political asylum for one reason or another. In other words, a communist nation is harboring people they feel have been unfairly abused by their own countries. Oh the irony. One of the most infamous of these fugitives is a woman by the name of JoAnne Chesimard, a.k.a., Assata Shakur.
A former member of the Black Panthers and The Black Liberation Army, Shakur was convicted in 1977 of the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and the assault of Trooper James Harper. She escaped prison in 1979 and has been living in Cuba since 1984 under; you guessed it, political asylum. In 2013, the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist list. She is the only woman with this distinction. At present, there is a $2 million reward for any assistance in her capture and arrest.
Shakur is a poster child for any Left Wing, Socialist, Communist, community organizing cause. She has referred to herself as a “20th century escaped slave”. She claimed at her trial that her hands were up when Officer Foerster shot her. Sound familiar? Her pictures and story have been floated at any march or protest in Ferguson, and most recently New York. She is a symbol of the “struggle and fight against the inherent racist imperialist American system designed to keep all people of color down”, or something like that.
What she truly is however, is a cop killer. She has a place among all of the other cop killers celebrated and elevated to martyr status by the Left. The difference? She has been a free woman since her 1979 escape. We hear lots of talk these days about justice for victims of violence. Does that also include the families of slain police officers? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has already written a letter to President Obama requesting that he ask Cuba for the immediate return of Shakur. The first ball in play seems to be the president’s. Is he willing to ignore every ideological bone in his body to do such a thing?
Secondly, is there a snowball’s chance in Havana that Cuba will comply? In a recent Washington Post piece, Douglas McNabb who is a criminal lawyer specializing in extradition law says not bloody likely. He states that the U.S. and Cuba have had an extradition treaty since 1905, and murder is a provision in the treaty. But there are exceptions for what is called “political offenses”. The language of the law does not say that Cuba “may not” return people who have been granted asylum, it “cannot”.
Even if President Obama and the Holder Justice Department decided to take this on, their buddies the Castro brothers have a legal loophole big enough to drive a ’57 Chevy through, once again, not having to, in the words of Raoul Castro, “compromise any of our principles”. So just exactly what does the United States gain in a deal to normalize relations with Cuba? For now, a safe haven for cop killers.