Just months after Cuban officials declared they have a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives despite thawing relations, comes chatter that the federal government and its new friend would discuss the return of those granted asylum by the country, according to the Miami Herald.
That was in December after the announcement of the so-called “Cuban Thaw,” when the U.S. lifted a decades-old embargo against the Communist regime that stemmed, in part, from charges of human rights violations.
But on Wednesday, State Department officials said that the United States and Cuba plan to hold talks about the return of fugitives from justice, including Assata Shakur, America’s most-wanted woman.
Shakur, 67, whose given name is Joanne Chesimard, was granted asylum by then-Cuban President Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a shootout after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike. Shakur has maintained her innocence. Fidel’s brother, Raúl Castro, now runs the country.
From the Miami Herald:
“We see the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of an embassy in Havana as the means by which we’ll be able more effectively to press the Cuban government on law enforcement issues such as fugitives,” said Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman.
Despite the concerns about fugitives and terrorists living in Cuba, the White House said its decision to seek the delisting was narrowly focused on just two concerns: whether Cuba had provided any support for international terrorism over the past six months and whether the Cuban government had given assurances it would not support international terrorists in the future.
“The assurances they provided were fairly wide-ranging and fairly high-level,” said a senior administration official.
What do you think? Should the U.S. leave Shakur alone in Cuba? Of course, this may all be moot. With a $2 million bounty on her head as the FBI’s most-wanted woman, why would she stay in Cuba now that it has a relationship with the U.S.?