Assata Shakur as political football
Well, this was inevitable. The case of Assata Shakur affords the US political right the opportunity to take a hit at Obama's opening to Cuba while simultaneously getting subliminal licks in at the Black Lives Matter protests. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was of course the first to grandstand about it, demanding that Cuba turn over the veteran Black Panther he called "Joanne Chesimard" (her former name) before diplomatic ties are restored. He wrote in an open letter to Obama: "If, as you assert, Cuba is serious about embracing democratic principles [sic] then this action would be an essential first step." Cuba, of course, said no dice. Asked if returning fugitives was on the table, Havana's head of North American affairs Josefina Vidal told the AP, "Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted… That's a legitimate right."
Note that the hed on the CNN coverage of Christie's bluster was "Christie to Obama: Tell Cuba to hand over cop killer." Um, CNN... Could we please get an adjective before "cop killer"? Like "accused"? Thank you. Yes, Shakur was convicted in the 1973 fatal incident in a New Jersey Turnpike police stop, when she was a young Black Liberation Army militant. She escaped from prison in '79 and later re-emerged as a political exile in Cuba. But Shakur always contended the police opened fire first, while she had her hands up, and that she never got a shot off. Shakur said a "racist" jury "convicted a woman with her hands up."
Oh, and why does nobody ever mention US refusal to extradite accused mass murderer Luis Posada Carriles amid all the huffing and puffing about Assata Shakur? We've pointed out this perverse double standard before. Far-right Cuban militant Posada Carriles is wanted by Venezuela for masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner in which 73 were killed. He is living openly in the Miami area. He's had some tussles with the immigration authorities in recent years, but the US won't send him to Venezuela to face justice. The last time we checked in on him, had just been given a medal by the Cuban History Academy at Miami Dade College.
What do you have to say about that, Chris Christie? Just asking.