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Despite Outcry from NJ Gov. Christie, Cuba Signals It Has No Interest in Returning Assata Shakur to the U.S.

Despite the flood of New Jersey officials loudly seeking the extradition of Assata Shakur from Cuba—including NJ Gov. Chris Christie—now that the U.S. and Cuba have normalized relations, a high-ranking Cuban official indicated yesterday that Cuba has no interest in returning Shakur to the U.S. to finish out a prison sentence after her conviction for killing a New Jersey state trooper, a crime Shakur has long denied.

When Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s head of North American affairs, was asked by the Associated Press if the issue of Cuba returning fugitives to the U.S. was open to negotiation, she stressed Cuba’s right to grant political asylum.

“Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted … That’s a legitimate right,” she said. “We’ve explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum.”

While she didn’t mention Shakur by name, Vidal added, “There’s no extradition treaty in effect between Cuba and the U.S.”

Christie, who is reportedly considering a run for president, forcefully put the return of Shakur on the desk of President Obama in a letter to the White House Friday and made public Sunday.

Christie said Cuba’s granting of asylum for Shakur was “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.”

By pressuring the White House, Christie presents Obama with a compelling dilemma—does he risk alienating the African-American community, where many people consider Shakur a hero, by pushing Cuba to send her back to an American jail? Or does he upset the law enforcement community by remaining silent on the matter?

In a CBS News report, there was a noncommittal statement from Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council. She said the White House will “continue to press in our engagement with the Cuban government for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes.”

CBS reported that in addition to Shakur there are other infamous convicts and suspects in high-profile American cases living openly in Cuba, including a man sought for a 31-year-old armed robbery, airplane hijackers, and dozens accused of Medicare and insurance fraud.

Though Cuba occasionally returns people convicted or suspected of committing crimes in the U.S., the State Department has said Cuba doesn’t observe traditional extradition and refuses to send anyone back for a crime Cuba considers political in nature.

Vidal pointed out that extradition would need to go both ways.

“We’ve reminded the U.S. government that in its country they’ve given shelter to dozens and dozens of Cuban citizens,” Vidal said. “Some of them accused of horrible crimes, some accused of terrorism, murder and kidnapping and in every case the U.S. government has decided to welcome them.”

The Queens-born Shakur, the step-aunt of rapper Tupac Shakur (her brother was Tupac’s stepfather), for decades has been a despised figure in law enforcement circles, where she is seen as a dangerous cop-killer and terrorist. But to many Blacks, Shakur is a hero for standing up to law enforcement while she was a leader of the Black Liberation Army in the 1970s and for her forceful writings and commentary on the conditions of Black people after she fled to Cuba around 1984.

She has been the subject of films, documentaries and rap songs over the years, in addition to her own writings, which were influential to a generation of activists.

After her conviction for killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973, Shakur became an underground legend in 1979 after she made a daring escape from prison—with the help of accomplices who took two guards hostage—and fled to Cuba, where she has been living in exile the last 30 years. The FBI and the New Jersey State Police last year raised the reward for her capture to $2 million and put the 67-year-old fugitive on its Most Wanted Terrorist list—the first woman to make the list of top terrorists.

After she was convicted of Foerster’s murder, carrying a mandatory life sentence, Shakur said the jury was “racist” and had “convicted a woman with her hands up”—an eerie connection to the Michael Brown killing by a Ferguson police officer.

“This case constitutes an open wound in our organization, and open wound in the Forester and the Harper families, and we have tried to take advantage of every opportunity,” Col. Rick Fuentes, head of the New Jersey state troopers, said last week in calling for Shakur’s return.


What people are saying

21 thoughts on “Despite Outcry from NJ Gov. Christie, Cuba Signals It Has No Interest in Returning Assata Shakur to the U.S.

  1. Greg Battle says:

    the hell with newjersey she was framed New Jersey has always been dirty and nasty

  2. Federico Rome Martinez says:

    I live in jersey and I say leave her alone. Christie doesn't speak for me.

  3. TherealWanda Jackson says:

    Christie is a foul mouthed mobster…

  4. Go get her Christie if your so bad! However, we know your sick history! We remember what you did to Mumia! All African Political Prisoners! This overweight crybaby. Cop killer? How about killer cops!

  5. Avid Anders says:

    "…Christie said Cuba’s granting of asylum for Shakur was an affront to every resident of our state," Speak for yourself governor; not every family feels that way.


  7. Jay Contreras says:

    Although I commend Cuba for holding that relations are 'normalized'..that means they can send some paid mercenary to do it. So I still say she either needs to go underground or leave. Whatever is safest for her. I also didn't realize that the fascist US govt tried to strong arm her daughter's father, Kamau Sadiki (Fred Hilton, also a former black panther) into helping them get her & when he refused, they dug up a 30 year old trumped case of murder and pinned it on him and he nows sits in prison. This is how DIRTY and NAZI YOUR GOVT is. Or should I say, this is how dirty the organized criminal network SOME call a government, is.

  8. Maybe they can put some of that reward money towards finding out who killed her nephew Tupac. Rather than pressuring for her return. Look how many cases have been overturned during that era of racism and desegration. That is a waste of tax dollars and what would be gained for her return at her age…? A for sure presidential nomination for Gov.Christie ?. Use that money to reform the Justice System all together.

  9. Bwire Vincent says:

    Look how many cases involving cops, are being overturned today…

  10. Yavon Davis says:

    The attack on all Black Liberation movements at that time was authorized by J.E. Hoover, the police and legal system supported, used entrapment, lies, and ABUSED and railroaded so many people of color. Cuba need to beef up their security ASAP cause some Americans are gun toting (KKK, police, mafia e.g..), so don't think for a second they will come for her clean it probably be a quick and dirty! New Jersey need to suck it up quick! I lived through those times the police were a MAJOR part of constant and on going oppression of people. of color. This woman did nothing wrong she was targeted for a police vendetta then as she is NOW!

  11. "in what is without question the fairest and most just criminal justice system in the world"..bwuhaahaha… was that said totally without irony? If so, then Christie here must be actually insane. Amerikkka is basically THE poster child for a crooked justice system, a joke and a tragedy to the rest of the free world. Especially recently, but nothing new to be certain. We don't forget that those who threaten to expose it end up dead too (Yes, we noticed that). Cuba has thrived in defiance of the USA bully system, we know this because we vacation there! It's rad, and the people there are nornal and cool. The illusion of the US as some righteous, superhero country exists only within the US itself, currently. Much love to Americans, I worry for you….and us here in Harper's Canada more and more too. P.S. Please DON'T join the army, even if you are broke.

  12. Nzingha Shabaka says:

    That is typical. They do it all over these US. BLACKS do not get justice in the courts. Thys did not know who killed the troper, making Assata a convinent suspect for the killing, in which she was convicted by a racist court system.

  13. I live here….don't think for a second that this greedy pig thinks for any of us. No one trusts him. No one believes anything he says. He's an opportunist that will use whatever leverage he can to move his agenda forward. You attempt to add more fuel to the fire between the black community and the police all so you can force the president's hand. So who's the real terrorist?

  14. Jay Contreras says:

    They know who killed of their own. That was some follow up/2nd generation CoIntelpro..just like with Malcolm X's grandson..tying up 'loose ends'..and Assata's co-defendant, Sundiata Acoli is near 80 and has been in prison for over 40 years on the same trumped up charges..they are scared of those who are conscious–even if they are geriatric..I guess as long as they can think freely, that's too much of a threat to the cowardly powers-that-think-they-be…and SIs, the just-us system is working exactly as it's supposed to: it's the new plantation. A new revenue stream for whites that is fueled on black labor. Same ol, same ol…remember that black men are filled to the brim in a system that criminalizes them for selling what the CIA is the biggest dealer of globally. If that ain't the height of hypocrisy, I don't know what is. The govt essentially is the biggest drug dealer YET black men are the ones languishing in prison? The amerikkkan way.

  15. Dee Brooks says:

    With a good lawyer she'll beat this 10x out of 10 that's how I know this justice system is bullshit shes on the most wanted list and a blind man can see

  16. Felton Mitchell says:

    I'm sorry I fell asleep is it still 1950.

  17. Katrina Prettyasapicture Truitt says:

    What's an affront to each US resident is watching the abuse of power in law enforcement that tells you your life isn't worth anything but theirs is worth 2 million dollars.They move heaven and earth for justice when it's one of their own…when it's us, we're villianized unapologetically. Chris Christie does not speak for me in any way, shape, form or fashion. Hands off Assata!

  18. These gangsters (Christie, Giuliani) are so arrogant. Whenever I see them, I am overpowered by feelings of grief. The fact that we permit men like this to sit in political positions of power says so much about our country.

  19. Chris should worry about his mafia ties.

  20. Chris should worry about his mafia ties.

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