He’s being welcomed as a hero on the Communist island prison.
A poster of US President Barack Obama popped up in central Havana Thursday in a revolutionary change to the portraits of Che Guevara and other communist leaders plastered around Cuba.
Cubans are used to living under the gaze of billboards, paintings and other depictions of Fidel Castro and his comrades in arms Che and Camilo Cienfuegos, as well as 19th-century independence leader Jose Marti.
But three days before Obama arrives in Havana for the first visit of a serving US president in nine decades, a restaurant entrepreneur has broken the bearded revolutionaries’ monopoly.
The poster, put up in the street near a cathedral that Obama is expected to visit after his arrival Sunday, is a montage showing Obama alongside Raul Castro, the Cuban president and brother of Fidel.
“Welcome to Cuba,” the poster says under the Stars and Stripes and the Cuban flag.
Miguel Angel Morales, owner of La Moneda Cubana restaurant, said putting up the poster was a big step in a country where the United States has been long been the enemy and where political imagery is tightly controlled.
Meanwhile, there’s barely a peep about Obama’s leftist comrades who have been given shelter in Cuba for many decades.
Four of them — Joanne Chesimard, William Guillermo Morales, Victor Manuel Gerena and Charles Hill — hail from US-based domestic terror organizations whose violent track record includes bringing about the deaths of 17 police officers, five American civilians and two members of the US military, as well as perpetrating a string of 159 bombings that have destroyed the lives and families of many more.
Gerena remains on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list, and Chesimard holds the distinction of being 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 $2 million reward for Chesimard’s return to prison for her conviction in the murder of New Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.
My connection to Foerster’s murder by Chesimard and several accomplices runs the breadth of my career.
From the time of her escape from a New Jersey prison on Nov. 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 the 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 njsp.org. You’ll 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’d ask you to immediately report their sighting to the US 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.
Enjoy your trip.