FBI: Cuba hiding dozens of wanted fugitives

Congress and the Obama administration have proposed easing tensions with Cuba and relaxing travel and business restrictions as a means of normalizing diplomatic relations after fifty years of hostility.  Before we begin servicing Havana with American commercial flights, though, ABC News wonders whether Cuba will cough up dozens of fugitives hiding on the island from US authorities.  The surrender of a hijacker who eluded prosecution for over 40 years prompted the FBI to remind people of those on the most-wanted lists:

There are believed to be dozens of other Americans living in Cuba beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Most of them have been holed in Cuba for decades, with many living casually in plain sight. Others, however, are taking no chances and living deep underground.

The best known American fugitive still hiding out in Cuba is JoanneChesimard, 62, also known as Assata Shakur.

Chesimard, a member of the radical activist organization the Black Liberation Army, was found guilty of first degree murder in the shooting death of a New Jersey state trooper in 1977. She escaped from prison in 1979 and was last seen in Cuba in 1984. She is widely believed to still be living underground in Cuba. …

Among the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives — a list that includes Osama bin Laden — is Victor Manuel Gerena. Gerena has been on the lam since 1984 after being accused of stealing $7 million in the heist of the Wells Fargo armored car depot in Connecticut to finance a Puerto Rican separatist group.

Chesimard is now known better by her nom de guerre, Assata Shakur.  A jury convicted her of first-degree murder in the 1970s for a shootout that killed New Jersey trooper Werner Foerster, and seven other felony counts related to the incident.  She escaped in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she lives openly, in defiance of US authorities who want her returned to prison.

In fact, as one might guess, the fugitives suspected of living in Cuba comprise a who’s-who of radical leftist politics in the 1960s and 1970s.  Fidel Castro certainly offered his hospitality to those who hated the US and didn’t mind using violence to show it.  Oddly, though, one prominent rogue capitalist is also on the list: Robert Vesco, who stole as much as $200 million from investors before being discovered in 1982, and who also contributed illegally to the re-election campaign of … Richard Nixon.

Maybe Castro likes having Vesco there as an example.  Or, perhaps, Castro liked Vesco’s money more than his politics.

If the US wants to pursue normal relations with Cuba, these fugitives should be part of the transaction.  The Castros need to quit sheltering those who killed and maimed here in the US if they want access to American markets and American consumers.