Chris Christie believes that President Obama’s plan to normalize relations with communist Cuba requires the return to the U.S. of convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard.
The New Jersey governor made his feelings clear in a letter to the president that was issued on Thursday and released publicly a few days later.
A member of the Black Liberation Army, Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, was convicted by a jury in 1977 of first-degree murder and several other charges in the fatal shooting of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in May 1973. She was sentenced to life in prison.
With the help of several armed accomplices, Chesimard broke out of jail in 1979 and was on the run for several years. She subsequently made her way to Cuba; Fidel Castro granted her political asylum there in 1984. Chesimard has denied killing the officer.
In 2013, the FBI added Shakur to the Most Wanted Terrorist List, the first woman to receive that designation. The reward for her capture is now $2 million.
Chris Christie’s letter to Obama indicated “profound disagreement” with the change in policy on Cuba until the government there first commits to improving its abysmal human rights record. About the Chesimard extradition, Christie wrote in part…
“Cuba’s provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer, and her ability to elude justice, is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice. I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. In addition, there certainly can be no review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism until Joanne Chesimard, a person designated by the FBI as a domestic terrorist, is returned to the United States…”
Christie, a possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, also expressed disappointment that the return of Chesimard was not already included as a condition for restoring diplomatic relations with the Castro dictatorship.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, also opposes Obama’s plan to reestablish relations with the Castro regime and lift the embargo on that country.
“I think it stinks,” Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, declared.
He added his disapproval of the Obama administration apparently at the same time agreeing to exchange three spies for imprisoned American Alan Gross.
“Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips,” Menendez explained.
Along with Christie and many others, the senator has also called on Obama to obtain the return of Chesimard to resume serving her life sentence in an American jail.
Assata Shakur is said to be the late Tupac Shakur’s godmother.
Do you think that Obama will go along with Chris Christie’s request to demand the return of fugitive Joanne Chesimard aka Assata Shakur from Cuba to the U.S.?
[image credit: Luigi Novi]