Castro to Obama: Who said we have to make concessions?
There are many troubling issues with this new "Cuba thaw" announced by President Obama last week.
We recently discussed "the swap" of Alan Gross for convicted spies and the very serious matter of the confiscation of U.S. property by the communist regime years ago.
It's possible that public opinion won't pay much attention to those issues. Gross is back and investment law is complicated.
However, the fugitive matter could be explosive for President Obama, especially given the shooting of two police officers in New York City.
According to news reports, there are many U.S. citizens hiding in Cuba from U.S. law:
For decades some of America's most-wanted fugitives made new lives for themselves in Cuba, marrying, having children and becoming fixtures of their modest Havana neighborhoods as their cases went mostly forgotten at home.
Granted political asylum by former President Fidel Castro, they became players in his government's outreach to American minorities and leftists, giving talks about Cuba's merits to sympathetic visitors, medical students and reporters from the U.S.
Last week's stunning reconciliation between the U.S. and Cuba has returned these graying relics of the Cold War to the headlines, transforming them into a potential source of tension in the new era of detente between the two nations.
The dozens of men and woman wanted by the U.S. range from quotidian Medicaid fraud suspects to black militants and Puerto Rican nationalists with major bounties on their heads.
They include Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.
Now known as Assata Shakur, she was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper and was sentenced to life in prison. She escaped, and wound up in Cuba in the 1980s.
Like other fugitives with political asylum here, she was living so openly in Havana that her number was listed in the phone book.
"I came and it was like a whole new world," she told the director of a 1997 documentary.
"This is one of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life. Everything is so lush, so green, so ripe."
Life for Shakur changed as U.S. authorities raised the price on her head. The reward offered by the FBI and the New Jersey State Police for information leading to her capture now stands at $2 million and members of the once close-knit community of black militants living in Cuba say their only contact with Shakur these days is an occasional unexpected but friendly phone call.
How does the president of the U.S. announce a "new approach" toward Cuba and say nothing about a cop-killer hiding in that island?
It's one thing when we talk about Medicare-fraud fugitives, but cop-killers and Puerto Rican nationalists touch a raw political nerve.
I'm not optimistic that a member of the Washington press will ask President Obama about the issue of Ms. Chesimard, especially after watching this last pre-vacation press conference. It was an embarrassing performance by the White House press corps, as Howard Kurtz wrote.
I am optimistic that the Chesimard issue will catch fire on talk radio and cable news, thus forcing President Obama to defend police officers calling for this lady to be returned to the U.S.
In other words, President Obama will have to address the issue.
After all, what's the point of establishing diplomatic relations with a country harboring cop-killers? What message does that send to the men and women who wear the uniform?