TRENTON, (CBS) — For many Americans, Cuba is a land of mystery and intrigue. After all, the island nation has been closed off to the average Americans for more than 50 years. Now, the head of New Jersey State Police is warning Americans who may decide to travel to Cuba.
In a harsh op-ed posted in newspapers from New York to Miami, Colonel Rick Fuentes has a warning for Americans. He mentions several American fugitives living in Cuba, including Joanne Chesimard. She goes by the name Assata Shakur, and Fuentes wants her returned to the United States.
Chesimard is on the FBI’s most wanted terror list for killing New Jersey State Police Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. She escaped a North Jersey prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she’s been since 1984. Troopers Foerster and James Harper stopped Chesimard and two associates for a traffic violation. Foerster died and Harper suffered serious injuries.
The following is Fuentes’ full opinion editorial:
“President Obama is going to Cuba next week, the first official state visit by a sitting president in more than 80 years. This visit surely will be followed by regularly-scheduled domestic airline and cruise ship service, rock concerts, major sporting events, U.S. corporate investment and thousands of American tourists curious to see Marxism up close and how an entire country can be reduced to an underclass. In return, Cuba will promise to embrace human rights and throw open its door to free market capitalism.
That’s not going to happen. I join many in recognizing that normalizing relations with Cuba will have little impact on the welfare of the Cuban people or the impoverished state of their surroundings.
Havana is where most of the tourists will likely travel. There is a sprinkling of four and five-star hotels along the scenic port and bay of Havana, several of which have at their backs the barrios of the Old City and Centro Habana. There is something beautiful and rustic about the panorama of poverty when it is viewed from the upper floors of a luxury hotel.
Tourists to Cuba, please be careful. You are not dignitaries with security teams, or part of a pampered and propagandized political delegation fattened and flattered by the type of cuisine and accommodations most Cubans can only dream about. I’m not saying that the jittery Cuban military and police aren’t interested in your movements on the island, but you will have no visible escorts or other functional layers of protection.
You also should know that some of America’s most wanted terrorists are living openly in Cuba. They roam the island freely and are still dangerous revolutionaries, disenchanted about all things American. It is highly unlikely that the Cuban landscape will be swept of their presence before your arrival because U.S. government negotiators speaking on behalf of the current presidential administration seem to lack both the will and intent to press the Castro brothers for their return to the United States to answer for their crimes.
Make no mistake, however, about the will and intent of Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey State Police to continue to advocate strongly against their privileged and coddled status of political asylum. Four of them, Joanne Chesimard, William Guillermo Morales, Victor Manuel Gerena and Charles Hill hail from U.S.-based domestic terror organizations whose violent track record has brought about the deaths of 17 police officers, 5 American civilians, 2 members of the U.S. military and a string of 159 bombings that have destroyed the lives and families of many more. Victor Gerena remains on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list and Joanne Chesimard holds distinction as the only woman on the photo spread of the FBI’s Most Wanted International Terrorists list.
The FBI and the State of New Jersey continue to pledge a two million dollar reward for Chesimard’s return to prison for her conviction in the murder of a New Jersey trooper in 1973. My connection to Trooper Werner Foerster’s murder by Joanne Chesimard and several accomplices runs the breadth of my career. From the time of her escape from a New Jersey prison on November 2, 1979, to my deeper investigative involvement in her flight from justice while assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the mid-80s, and into my current role as colonel and superintendent, the New Jersey State Police and I have never lost our determination to see her returned to prison.
For your safety, before you depart for your long awaited Cuban vacation, please visit the New Jersey State Police website at http://www.njsp.org. You will find the most updated photographs of these four terrorist fugitives accompanied by a short bio from the FBI. If your walk about the island crosses the path of any of these coddled criminals, I would ask you to immediately report their sighting to the U.S. Embassy in Havana. At all hours, the embassy can be reached at (53)(7)839-4100, a handy number to keep in your pocket to mitigate many of the unforeseen perils of travel to Cuba.”