For Menendez, a ' sense of urgency' in gaining return of fugitive Joanne Chesimard

For Menendez, a ' sense of urgency' in gaining return of fugitive Joanne Chesimard


By:  Mike Kelly
The Record


She is one of America’s most wanted fugitives — a name that continues to surface in many discussions about the Obama administration’s plan to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. And yet, the fate of convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard remains almost as mysterious as she is.

Chesimard, a member of the militant Black Liberation Army, broke out of a New Jersey prison in 1979 after serving two years of a life sentence for killing a state trooper in a turnpike gunfight. Now 67, she has lived for the past three decades in Cuba after Fidel Castro granted her political asylum and called her murder conviction “an infamous lie.”

President Obama’s attempt to open diplomatic doors with the Caribbean communist dictatorship has sparked an intense campaign – mostly by Republicans and law enforcement leaders — to bring Chesimard back to the United States to serve her prison sentence. On Tuesday, that campaign received a major lift in the U.S. Senate, but not from Obama’s usual array of Republican critics or from law enforcement advocates.

It was New Jersey Democrat and erstwhile Obama supporter, Senator Robert Menendez, who took the microphone at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee meeting on Cuban policy to denounce the deal with Cuba, which included the release of three Cuban spies who were imprisoned in the United States.

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