I’m sure it has nothing to do with Obama being sympathetic to Shakur’s cause.
HAVANA (AP) — Cuba’s point person on U.S. relations says anything is up for discussion as the two countries move to re-establish diplomatic ties, from anti-drug cooperation to joint environmental agreements.
But there’s at least one area where Cuba appears unwilling to budge: Asylum for fugitives whom the U.S. has long sought to extradite from the communist-run country.
“Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press.
“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,” Vidal said, noting also that the two countries have no extradition treaty in effect.
Vidal’s comments in a Monday interview were the clearest sign yet that Cuba has no intention of extraditing America’s most-wanted woman, Joanne Chesimard, following a historic detente announced by last week by President Barack Obama and Raul Castro of Cuba.
Chesimard, who has changed her name to Assata Shakur, was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gunbattle after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike.
The first woman ever placed on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list was living so openly in Havana that her number was listed in the phone book.