In November 1971, a New Mexico State Police patrolman, Robert Rosenbloom, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque. Three suspects who belonged to a black militant separatist group known as Republic of New Afrika hid out for weeks, then carjacked a wrecker truck at gunpoint and forced the driver to take them to the Albuquerque airport. On Nov. 27, they hijacked Trans World Airlines Flight 106, flew to Tampa, Fla., where passengers were allowed off the plane, then flew on to Cuba and into the welcoming arms of the Cuban government, which gave them political asylum.
Two have since died, but Charlie Hill is still living in Cuba. Among other U.S. fugitives given asylum in Cuba is a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. She was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper and sentenced to life in prison. She escaped to Cuba in the ’80s.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie want the Barack Obama administration to get these dangerous fugitives back as part of the thawing out of relations with Cuba.
Cuban officials say extraditing U.S. fugitives is off the table, claiming that, as a sovereign nation, it has the right to grant political asylum to those “it considers to have been persecuted.” It’s an interesting insight into the Castro regime that it considers those who kill police officers and flee to be persecuted.
The change in relations is much more important for Cuba, which has suffered a stagnant economy and repressive regime, than it is for the United States. Obama and Congress shouldn’t give up much, and the president shouldn’t even consider a personal visit to Cuba for camera mugging sessions with the Castro brothers until he gets an extradition deal to return some of America’s most wanted fugitives to U.S. soil and U.S. justice. And our Democrat congressional delegation should hammer that point home.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.