One of the early sticking points in the debate over Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba and the Castro regime was the fact that the island nation has been a safe haven for dangerous fugitives hiding out from American law enforcement. The most famous of these is probably Assata Shakur, who murdered a New Jersey State Trooper back in the seventies, but there are several others. Now that relations are supposedly thawing between our two countries, could we be closer to getting these felons returned home to face justice?

Not according to the jail birds in question. (AT&T News)

Two American fugitives who fled to Cuba after they were accused of killing police officers said Friday that Cuban officials have assured them that detente with the United States will not lead to their extradition…

Charles Hill, a black militant wanted in the 1971 slaying of a New Mexico state policeman, told The Associated Press that Cuban government contacts had recently reassured him he was at no risk of extradition. Nehanda Abiodun, another black militant wanted in a 1981 armored car robbery that left two police offers and a security guard dead, told the AP she had recently received a similar promise.

Both Hill and Abiodun are particularly incendiary figures who, like Shakur, have been thumbing their noses at the American justice system for decades with the full cooperation of the Cuban government. Getting all of them back to the United States would go a long way toward convincing some skeptics of Obama’s efforts (such as myself) to warm up to the idea a bit more. Since we’ve already had a series of meetings with the Cubans on just this subject it’s understandable that some of us were getting our hopes up that it might finally happen. But if Cuba is simply slamming the door on the subject it’s difficult to see the “give and take” in this newly repaired relationship. Cuba seems to be getting all of the benefits while being willing to offer nothing of substance in return.

For his part, Charlie Hill would actually like to come home, though I doubt he’s interested in going back to jail. In an interview with CNN last year he claimed that one of the main reasons was because he misses the french fries at McDonald’s.

Before talking more, Hill finishes his plastic glass of beer and takes a final draw on his stub of a cigarette. We step out into the sunlight and go to a park where Hill starts to give his reasons why he may soon end his long run from the law.

“I miss my country,” he said, his voice cracking. “I miss my family. I would like to go back and see where my grandparents were born, where I was born, where I went to junior high. Eat some blackberry pie. Even go to McDonald’s. That’s only natural.”

Here’s a news flash for Mr. Hill. They don’t deliver McDonald’s to maximum security.

Before we give up all hope of some sort of cooperation, keep in mind that none of this is “official” right now. We’re getting this information from the extradition targets themselves and it’s based on what their Cuban “handlers” are telling them. This means that the felons are relying on the truthfulness, integrity and good will of the Castro regime in terms of staying safe and secure where they are. If history has taught us anything by this point it’s that you can trust the word of the Castro family about as far as Fidel could be dragged by a dyspeptic chihuahua.

Even if we don’t get these criminals back in custody, it appears that our government is willing to continue offering concessions to the Castros. In one of the latest bits of news on the subject we just learned that several airlines will now be allowed to resume regular service to Havana. That will be worth quite a bit to the local economy down there, eh? So what incentive do the Cubans have to cooperate with us if we keep giving away the farm for free?

CharlieHill