Three GOP Senators demand return of US fugitives from Cuba before normalization

Three Republican Senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an accounting of American fugitives from justice who are living in Cuba. The Senators want the fugitives to be returned to the US as part of any deal to normalize relations.

The Blaze:

A top State Department official was in Cuba this week to begin talks on some of the technical changes that might take place as a first step toward normalizing diplomatic relations.

Supporters of the embargo have said current policy should be maintained until Cuba undertakes democratic reforms, stops cracking down on political dissidents, and returns all U.S. fugitives. So far, however, Cuba has not indicated it will do any of these things, which has led to criticism that Obama is giving away too much in the talks.

For example, a senior State Department official said this week that the U.S. wants Cuba to return Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted in the U.S. for killing a New Jersey State Trooper years ago. But the official appeared to indicate that the U.S. was not conditioning normalization talks on Chesimard’s return.

“We would still like her returned, and that’s a high priority for us,” the official said. “But that has not been, unfortunately, something that the Cuban Government has been willing to entertain.

On Friday, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote Holder to say there are more than 70 fugitives in Cuba, and to ask him directly whether normalization can occur without their return.

“As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, do you support the normalization of relations with Cuba without the return of fugitives from justice for prosecution who have the blood of Americans, including law enforcement officers on their hands?” they asked.

The senators also asked Holder for a list of all fugitives from the U.S. living in Cuba.

Another pressing matter in the normalization debate is whether or not Cuba should be taken off the list of countries who sponsor terrorism. The Senators tried to tie the fugitive issue to the terrorism issue by calling some of them "domestic terrorists." The State Department and US intelligence agencies say Cuba no longer supports armed rebels in this hemispere, although they still provide a safe haven for some terrorists.

The Castros won't give up the fugitives either because they've paid the regime for the privilege of living in Cuba, as financier Robert Vesco did before his death in 2008, or they are considered "political prisoners." Such is the case of Joanne Chesimard, who now calls herself Assata Shakur. She is wanted for the execution style murder of a New Jersey state trooper, but claims she was being railroaded by the police and prosecutors. (Shakur is the aunt of rapper Tupac Shakur.)

Most of the other Americans being sheltered by the Cuban government are violent, radical leftists - black nationalists, including members of the Black Panther Party, Puerto Rican separatists, and a few other pro-Castro communists. It is not likely the Cuban government would repatriate these bombers and killers, not when they know the Obama administration is going to give them exactly what they want without returning anyone.

 

Three Republican Senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an accounting of American fugitives from justice who are living in Cuba. The Senators want the fugitives to be returned to the US as part of any deal to normalize relations.

The Blaze:

A top State Department official was in Cuba this week to begin talks on some of the technical changes that might take place as a first step toward normalizing diplomatic relations.

Supporters of the embargo have said current policy should be maintained until Cuba undertakes democratic reforms, stops cracking down on political dissidents, and returns all U.S. fugitives. So far, however, Cuba has not indicated it will do any of these things, which has led to criticism that Obama is giving away too much in the talks.

For example, a senior State Department official said this week that the U.S. wants Cuba to return Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted in the U.S. for killing a New Jersey State Trooper years ago. But the official appeared to indicate that the U.S. was not conditioning normalization talks on Chesimard’s return.

“We would still like her returned, and that’s a high priority for us,” the official said. “But that has not been, unfortunately, something that the Cuban Government has been willing to entertain.

On Friday, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote Holder to say there are more than 70 fugitives in Cuba, and to ask him directly whether normalization can occur without their return.

“As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, do you support the normalization of relations with Cuba without the return of fugitives from justice for prosecution who have the blood of Americans, including law enforcement officers on their hands?” they asked.

The senators also asked Holder for a list of all fugitives from the U.S. living in Cuba.

Another pressing matter in the normalization debate is whether or not Cuba should be taken off the list of countries who sponsor terrorism. The Senators tried to tie the fugitive issue to the terrorism issue by calling some of them "domestic terrorists." The State Department and US intelligence agencies say Cuba no longer supports armed rebels in this hemispere, although they still provide a safe haven for some terrorists.

The Castros won't give up the fugitives either because they've paid the regime for the privilege of living in Cuba, as financier Robert Vesco did before his death in 2008, or they are considered "political prisoners." Such is the case of Joanne Chesimard, who now calls herself Assata Shakur. She is wanted for the execution style murder of a New Jersey state trooper, but claims she was being railroaded by the police and prosecutors. (Shakur is the aunt of rapper Tupac Shakur.)

Most of the other Americans being sheltered by the Cuban government are violent, radical leftists - black nationalists, including members of the Black Panther Party, Puerto Rican separatists, and a few other pro-Castro communists. It is not likely the Cuban government would repatriate these bombers and killers, not when they know the Obama administration is going to give them exactly what they want without returning anyone.