New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is urging President Obama to demand that Cuba return convicted police-killer Joanne Chesimard before he proceeds with efforts to improve diplomatic relations with that country.
Chesimard was found guilty of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 before escaping from prison and fleeing to Cuba. The 67-year-old Chesimard has since been provided safe haven by the Cuban government.
“Cuba’s provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer … is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police,” Christie wrote. “I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.”
Christie, a Republican, sent the letter to Obama on Friday, two days after the president announced that the United States will try to “normalize” relations with communist Cuba, after roughly 50 years of economic embargoes, restricted travel and other diplomatic maneuvers to try to push out the Castro regime by isolating the country.
Obama says he wants to resume normal relations with Cuba so that the U.S. can influence generational changes coming to that country.
The FBI has designated Chesimard (aka Assata Shakur) as a domestic terrorist, and she is the first woman to be placed on the agency’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.
In the letter, Christie also said he doesn’t agree with the president’s argument that restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba is the right move.
However, he argued that recent talks between the countries are an opportunity for Cuba and its government to show it is serious about change.
“Despite my profound disagreement with the decision, I believe there is an opportunity for Cuba and its government to show the American people it is serious about change,” Christie wrote.
Christie also said the families of Chesimard’s victims “like so many of those who have, and continue to suffer under the Castro regime, deserve this basic decency before further steps toward Cuba are taken by this government.”