Havana is her haven

By Karen Zautyk

By the time you read this, our President should have wrapped up his historic visit to our newest (in his opinion) ally: Cuba.

According to a statement from the White House press office, he was there to “work to build on the progress we have made toward normalization of relations with Cuba — advancing commercial and people-to-people ties that can improve the well-being of the Cuban people and expressing our support for human rights.”

We surmise that does not include the rights of humans who wear the uniform of N.J. law enforcement officers.

Since 1984, Joanne Chesimard, convicted murderer of N.J. State Trooper Werner Foerster, has been living freely in Cuba, having been granted political asylum by the Castros’ Communist paradise.  She is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, and a reward of up to $2 million has been offered for information leading to her capture and return to the United States.

Foerster was gunned down in 1973 in a shoot-out with three individuals during a traffic stop on the N.J. Turnpike in East Brunswick. Another officer, Trooper James Harper, was wounded.

In 1977, Chesimard was convicted of eight felonies, including the first-degree murder of Foerster. Sentenced to life in prison, she escaped from jail in 1979, lived in hiding for several years and, in 1984, found refuge in Cuba’s open arms.

And she is not the only fugitive terrorist basking in the sun down there. As noted by Col. Rick Fuentes, head of the N.J. State Police, three others — William Guillermo Morales, Victor Manuel Gerena and Charles Hill — all hailing “from U.S.-based domestic terror organizations” have found sanctuary there.

When our President announced “normalization” of relations with the Communist nation in December 2014, some American political leaders with a less kumbaya mentality urged that this must not happen unless and until the criminals were returned to U.S. custody. Their arguments were, of course, consigned to the White House trash heap.

Last week, in a scathing OpEd column published in the Miami Herald, Fuentes made it clear that the issue is far from dead, no matter what the current administration chooses to believe.

Addressing Americans who plan to visit Cuba, Fuentes warned of those most-wanted terrorists who “are living openly” there. He wrote: “They roam the island freely and are still dangerous revolutionaries, disenchanted about all things American.” And he noted that “U.S. government negotiators speaking on behalf of the current presidential administration seem to lack both the will and intent to press the Castro brothers for their return to the United States to answer for their crimes.” (We would have deleted the “seem to.”)

Fuentes, who has a way with words, also wrote that the President’s visit “surely will be followed by” cruise ships, sporting events, U.S. corporate investment … “and thousands of American tourists curious to see Marxism up close and how an entire country can be reduced to an underclass. In return, Cuba will promise to embrace human rights and throw open its door to free market capitalism.

“That’s not going to happen.”

As for Havana as a tourist destination, Fuentes cited “a sprinkling of four- and five-star hotels along the scenic port and bay,” and mused: “There is something beautiful and rustic about the panorama of poverty when it is viewed from the upper floors of a luxury hotel.”

The President’s Cuba agenda was to include: a meet-and-greet at the U.S. Embassy; a family sightseeing tour of Old Havana; a meeting with Raúl Castro; an “entrepreneurship summit”; a state dinner; an address to the Cuban people, and a visit with dissidents (Seriously? You mean there are still some left?). He was also to take in a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team.

According to the White House, he would not formally meet with Fidel. It is our hope that he would also not meet. formally or otherwise, with Joanne Chesimard. Unless she leaves said meeting in handcuffs and U.S. federal custody.

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