With the prisoner exchange and the normalizing of relations with Cuba arises the question of the dozens of American fugitives enjoying asylum there—including a cop-killer on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List with a $1 million reward offered for her capture.
Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 after being convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Foerster. She had been in a car with two fellow members of the Black Liberation Army when Foerster and another trooper pulled them over on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Shakur was on the run for five years after her prison break before managing to reach Cuba, where she was granted asylum in 1984.
In 1997, the New Jersey State Police wrote to Pope John Paul II asking him to raise the question of Shakur with Fidel Castro on an upcoming visit to Cuba.
Whether the pope did or not, Shakur continued to live undisturbed in Cuba despite a 1998 resolution by the U.S. Congress asking that she be returned. She was joined by her daughter, who was conceived while Shakur was in a New Jersey prison and initially raised by Shakur’s own mother in New York.
Cuba also granted asylum to three black militants who hijacked an airplane from Albuquerque while being sought for the 1972 murder of New Mexico State Trooper Robert Rosenbloom during a traffic stop.
One of the three, Ralph Goodwin, is said to have drowned while swimming at a beach outside Havana. The other two, Charlie Hill and Michael Finney, continue to live in Cuba. Hill told aWashington Post reporter in 1999 that he had no regrets about killing Rosenbloom, who had a wife and two young daughters.
“I have never felt guilty about that cop,” Hill was quoted saying. “I never think about that dude.”