Biden's Cuba Conundrum
olitical luminaries on the left have always harbored a soft spot for the world’s dictators, Putin, Ortega, Jinping, Maduro, and Cuba’s successor to the Hermanos Castro, Miguel Diaz-Canel. Not to say that they align with the atrocities they commit, as that would be a pill too bitter for their voters to swallow. Rather, it is the vast power that they wield over the citizenry and military. Given Democrat majorities across all three branches of government and a strong wind from the socialist wing of the party at their back, there is a two-year window to coddle up to the Marxists of the Caribbean.
Joe Biden is duteous to the doctrine of appeasement, putting Barack Obama’s acolytes back in their familiar foreign policy and national security seats to complete a worldview that puts America last. Diaz-Canel is already licking his chops over American dollars and setting lopsided conditions for talks that offer no compromise on issues involving the Cuban revolution, socialism, and sovereignty.
In addition to their miserable record on human rights, with thousands of political dissidents held in warrantless detention and imprisonment in 2020 alone, the Cuban regime has offered safe haven to America’s most notorious domestic terrorists. Four among them are William Guillermo Morales, Victor Manuel Gerena, Charles Lee Hill, and Joanne Deborah Chesimard.
In the 1970s, Morales was a bombmaker for the FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist groups with a string of attacks that included the bombing of New York City’s historic Fraunces Tavern in 1975 that killed five lunchgoers. Hill, along with two members of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), shot to death a New Mexico state trooper in 1971 on a motor vehicle stop and later hijacked an airliner to Cuba. Gerena is a fugitive from the 1983 Wells Fargo heist of seven million dollars in Connecticut and a member of Los Macheteros, a group that fired a surface-to-air missile at the FBI office in Puerto Rico and engaged in shootouts with agents.
The most infamous of the four fugitives, Joanne Chesimard, was the soul of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). Popularly known by her nom de guerre, Assata Shakur, she is a celebrated revolutionary in American radical circles and campus faculty lounges. To the founders of Black Lives Matter (BLM), she is the very essence of the need to upend a system poisoned by irremediable racism. Many on the left have promoted a narrative that weaves Chesimard’s struggle into the teachings of the 1619 Project and critical race theory. While many know her name, few outside of law enforcement can speak of the crime that put her on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists.
On May 2, 1973, shortly after midnight, New Jersey State Police Trooper William Harper stopped a vehicle on the New Jersey Turnpike with no taillights occupied by Chesimard and two other BLA members, Clark Squires and James Coston. Trooper Werner Foerster, a Vietnam veteran and married father of a three-year-old, pulled up behind Harper’s vehicle.
Squires quickly exited and met Trooper Harper between the two cars. Trooper Foerster took up a position on the right front of his police vehicle, a position that gave him good vantage.
Squires was flustered and evasive to simple questions about the vehicle’s ownership, so Harper began to interview the other two passengers. At the same time, Foerster patted down Squires for weapons and found a fully-loaded ammunition clip. He yelled to Harper, creating a distraction that gave Chesimard the opportunity to grab a nine-millimeter from her pocketbook and shoot Harper in the left shoulder, rendering one arm useless.
A gunfight erupted as Harper retreated for cover. Returning fire, Harper shot Chesimard in the upper left chest and Coston was mortally wounded. Out of view of Harper, Squires and Foerster began to struggle on the blind side of Foerster’s police car. Squires was able to draw a concealed handgun and shot Foerster, knocking him to the ground.
With Foerster nowhere in sight, Harper, in shock from loss of blood and unable to reload his weapon, made his way on foot to the nearby state police barracks a short distance away. Chesimard stood up from the concealment of the Pontiac and walked back to join Squires. She then shot Foerster once in the stomach while he was on the ground. Foerster’s revolver was ripped from his holster and he was shot twice again in the neck and behind the left ear.
Blood spray from Foerster was found on the lower part of Chesimard’s trousers, putting her in close proximity to the trooper when he was killed. Both Chesimard’s and Squire’s guns were left by his body.
With Coston dying in the back seat, Squires and Chesimard made their escape in the Pontiac. Troopers found the Pontiac parked a few miles down the Turnpike where Squires had dumped Coston’s body in the grass and abandoned Chesimard. Foerster’s revolver had been placed next to Coston in an effort to divert blame for the trooper’s death. Squires was captured in a nearby wooded area a short time later.
Squires and Chesimard stood separate jury trials over the next decade, were both convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life terms. First sent to a maximum security federal prison in West Virginia, she was later sent to a makeshift women’s detention wing at a rural New Jersey corrections facility. In 1979, a collective of radical misfits from several domestic terrorist groups teamed up to spring Chesimard in broad daylight. Two years later, as Chesimard transited a series of northeast safehouses en route to her asylum in Cuba, the same group ambushed and murdered two Nyack, New York, police officers in the aftermath of a botched armored car robbery.
Flexing his foreign policy muscle early in his administration, in June 2017 President Trump spoke to a largely Cuban crowd in Miami, revoking Obama’s policy of Cuban rapprochement and reinstituting the embargo. Going against the advice of State Department wonks still in place from the Obama administration, he closed his remarks by saying:
“To the Cuban government, I say: Put an end to the abuse of dissidents. Release the political prisoners. Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic freedoms. Return the fugitives from American justice -- including the return of the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard.”
In the twisted views of BLM and the radical Democrat wing, Chesimard and her comrades were doing the right thing on the wrong side of written history. Their answer is to simply rewrite history, get the media and Hollywood to collaborate, use racism, street thuggery, and corporate bullying to hoodwink and silence opposition, and then force it down the throats of successive generations of college kids. Villains are heroic when morality switches hands and the veritable portraits of bygone times will soon be erased along with their monuments. If you follow this pretzel logic, the execution of Trooper Werner Foerster can be viewed as a condonable act from someone who gave as good as she got.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his conga line of Latin America policy experts know full well that these four fugitives skippered groups responsible for a decade of 159 bombings, the deaths of 17 police officers, two soldiers, and five American citizens. More than one hundred military personnel and police were injured. That’s a lot of terror attacks and dead Americans to harden the resolve of American negotiators in dealing with the Cuban regime.
BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors angled to strike a chord from the schoolgirls thumbing through her interview in Teen Vogue, inferring that Chesimard gave up life and family to seek political asylum from the racial cruelty of America. As in all lamentations on the plight of Chesimard, there is nary a mention of Werner Foerster, executed on a littered shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike, leaving his child fatherless and his grandchildren with little more than a bedtime story, a shadow-boxed flag, and the trimmings from a blue and gold uniform.