Obama Frees Cuba-Backed Puerto Rican Terrorist 3

A painting of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago in 2011. (Credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times)

A painting of Oscar Lopez Rivera in Humboldt Park in Chicago in 2011.
(Credit: Sally Ryan for The New York Times)

Obama Commutes Sentence of F.A.L.N. Member Oscar Lopez Rivera

By CHRISTOPHER MELEJAN, New York Times

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a man convicted for his role in a Puerto Rican nationalist group linked to more than 100 bombings in New York and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.

The man, Oscar Lopez Rivera, was serving a 70-year sentence after being convicted of numerous charges, including seditious conspiracy, a charge used for those plotting to overthrow the United States government.

He was linked to the radical group known as the F.A.L.N., the Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation, and was one of more than a dozen group members convicted in the 1980s.

Under Mr. Obama’s commutation order, Mr. Lopez Rivera’s prison sentence will expire May 17. It was one of 209 grants of commutation by the president announced Tuesday.

The F.A.L.N., which waged a violent campaign for the independence of Puerto Rico, was considered by the authorities to be among the most elusive and resilient terrorist groups to operate in the United States. Among its notable attacks was a bombing at Fraunces Tavern in New York in 1975 that killed four people.

The group was known for its tight-knit membership, fanatical zeal and hit-and-run tactics, as exemplified by the bombings of four government buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve in 1982 that seriously wounded three police officers.

Mr. Lopez Rivera was not specifically charged in the Fraunces Tavern bombing but more broadly with, among other things, the interstate transportation of firearms with the intent to commit violent crimes, and transportation of explosives with intent to kill and injure people and to destroy government buildings and property.

President Bill Clinton offered Mr. Lopez Rivera and other members of the F.A.L.N. clemency in 1999, a decision that stirred an emotional debate. Mr. Clinton said their sentences were out of proportion with their offenses.

While 12 prisoners accepted the offer and were freed, Mr. Lopez Rivera rejected the chance to reduce his sentence because it did not include all of the group’s members, his lawyer, Jan Susler, said at the time. If he had accepted the agreement, she said, he would have been eligible for release in 2009.

Article continues here:  FALN  

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The American Fugitives of Havana 2

Assata Shakur - the former Joanne Chesimard.

Assata Shakur – the former Joanne Chesimard.

By Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker

When a cold war winds down, what happens to its spies and traitors? The British double agents Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and Donald Maclean were able to see out their days in Moscow while it was still ruled by Communists, without fears that their hosts might betray them and send them back to an unforgiving Great Britain.

Other scenarios, such as that of the United States and Cuba, are more complicated. On December 17, 2014, the same day that the United States and Cuba announced the restoration of diplomatic relations, an exchange of long-imprisoned spies and double agents also took place. Three Cuban sleeper agents who had been imprisoned in the U.S. since 1998 were released from U.S. federal prisons and flown home. Simultaneously, Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, a C.I.A. double agent who had been held in a Cuban prison since 1995, was flown to the U.S., as was Alan Gross, a State Department contractor who was arrested in 2009 for smuggling Internet equipment onto the island for dissident groups.

But the fates of many fugitive citizens who were given refuge in the United States or Cuba remain in limbo. Among them are people sought back home for crimes including murder, kidnapping, bank robbery, and terrorism. Curious about such people, I recently asked an American official what prevented the U.S. government from arresting, and possibly extraditing, Luis Posada Carriles, an eighty-eight-year-old Cuban exile living in Florida, on terrorism charges.

Posada, a former C.I.A. operative who spent most of the past half century involved in efforts to violently destabilize the Castro government, has been on the top of Cuba’s most-wanted list for decades. I ticked off the long list of his alleged crimes—most notably, the bombing of Cubana de Aviación Flight 455, in 1976, which killed all seventy-three passengers onboard, and a number of bombings and assassination attempts across the Western Hemisphere. As recently as 1997, Posada admitted to planning the bombing of a Havana hotel, which killed an Italian tourist.

The official listened calmly, nodding his head as I spoke. Eventually, he told me, “The complication is that Cuba is also harboring people that the United States would like to see face justice back home.” He mentioned Joanne Chesimard, who goes by the name Assata Shakur, the aunt of the late rapper Tupac Shakur and a former member of the Black Liberation Army, a short-lived offshoot of the Black Panther Party that was devoted to armed struggle.

Shakur, a native New Yorker, has been living in Cuba since 1984. She arrived there after several years on the lam, following her escape from a prison in New Jersey, where she was serving a life sentence for the 1973 murder of a U.S. state trooper. (She was also tried for but not convicted of crimes including bank robbery, kidnapping, and other murders.) Shakur was granted political asylum in Cuba, where she was given a job and a home. She is now sixty-nine, remains on the F.B.I.’s Most Wanted list, and is the undisputed doyenne of the estimated seventy-odd American fugitives living in Cuba. Her 1987 memoir, “Assata: An Autobiography,” whose cover features a photograph of her looking over her shoulder at the camera, can be found in many of Havana’s state-run bookstores, alongside books about Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

Most of the American fugitives in Cuba are radicals of Shakur’s era. Charlie Hill, who is in his mid-sixties, was a member of a militant group called the Republic of New Afrika, which sought to create an independent black nation in the American South. Hill was accused, with two comrades, of killing a policeman in New Mexico in 1971. Several weeks later, the three men hijacked a passenger plane to Cuba, where they were granted asylum. Both of Hill’s comrades have died, but he remains in Havana. And there is the Columbia University graduate Cheri Dalton, who goes by Nehanda Abiodun, also a veteran of the Republic of New Afrika. Abiodun is sought for her involvement in the armed robbery of a Brink’s armored truck in New York in 1981, in which two policemen and a security guard were killed. She is also thought to have helped Shakur break out of prison. Abiodun, who either fled to Cuba with Shakur or followed shortly after, has reinvented herself there as a mentor to rap artists.

Feature continues here: Cuban Safe Haven

Iran, Cuba seek closer ties 1

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez on arrival at the Foreign Ministry building in the Cuban capital of Havana, August 22, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez on arrival at the Foreign Ministry building in the Cuban capital of Havana, August 22, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with Cuba’s President Raul Castro while on the first leg of a six-nation tour of Latin American countries.

The meeting took place on Monday in the Cuban capital of Havana, where the top Iranian diplomat arrived on Sunday night at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation.

The two statesmen discussed the development of bilateral ties, international and Middle East affairs, as well as the upcoming summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which is to be held in Venezuela later in the year.

Zarif earlier met with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez and the country’s Minister of Economy and Vice-President Ricardo Cabrisas.

In his meeting with Rodriguez, Zarif said he sought to “open a new chapter in bilateral relations with Cuba.”

The top Cuban diplomat, for his part, hailed “the Iranian foreign policy’s victory” in reaching a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers and the deal’s subsequent implementation.

Cabrisas visited Iran earlier in August, when he handed over a written message by President Castro to President Hassan Rouhani. He said Havana sought the promotion of all-out relations with Tehran.

Zarif leads a group of 120 businessmen and financial executives from government and private sectors. He has now arrived in Nicaragua on the second leg of his Latin American trip, which will also take him to Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Venezuela.  (Source:  Spy News Agency)

Editor’s Note: Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI) officer Ricardo Belen Cabrisas Ruiz served as the Commercial Counselor in Ontario from approximately January 1967 through at least October 1970. According to a declassified Defense Department intelligence report, known DGI officer Ricardo Belen Cabrisas Ruiz then served as Ambassador to Japan. He subsequently became Cuba’s Foreign Trade Minister sometime prior to October 1983. In the mid-2000s, he served as Minister of Government within the Office of the President.

In the late 1980s, the DGI was reorganized and renamed the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).

Swapping Cuban Spy For American Cop Killer A Non-Starter 1

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio

By Marco Rubio, Sunshine State News

With reports that the U.S. government and Cuban regime have discussed the possibility of releasing convicted Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes in exchange for Joanne Chesimard, who killed a New Jersey police officer and has been living in Cuba for decades, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expressed his firm opposition to the idea this week:

‎Ana Belen Montes is one of the most hardened and unrepentant spies ever captured and convicted by the United States government. Over an extended period of time, Belen Montes repeatedly compromised our national security and endangered American lives.

Were it not for the courageous actions of federal law enforcement and counter-espionage agents, there is no telling how much damage Belen Montes could have wrought on our national security. Releasing her from prison for any reason is a non-starter, but the notion that she would be given her freedom in exchange for a convicted cop killer would be an even greater outrage to the victims of both Ana Belen Montes and Joanne Chesimard.

The Obama administration at every level should unequivocally take this possibility off the negotiating table and make clear to the Castro regime that it will never happen.

It is crazy that something like this even needs to be said, but as we have seen with the Obama administration time and time again, nothing is outside the realm of possibility. Whether releasing terrorists from GITMO or the Cuban spies it has already released, the Obama administration has shown a reckless approach to one-sided prisoner swaps that endanger America’s security and send a message that our justice system can be circumvented for the right price or the right short-sighted political goal.

Ana Belen Montes deserves to serve every single day of her sentence in a federal prison, and Joanne Chesimard should join her soon, and the Obama administration should restate their commitment to both of these goals and they should do it soon.

U.S. Sen .Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was first elected to the Senate in 2010

Interview With American Fugitive Charlie Hill — Cop Killer 1

Charles Hill, prófugo del FBI refugiado en La Habana hace más de cuarenta años / Foto: Yuris Nórido

Charles Hill, prófugo del FBI refugiado en La Habana hace más de cuarenta años / Foto: Yuris Nórido

Black on the hill, prófugo en La Habana

Por : Carlos Manuel Álvarez

Es la noche del 8 de noviembre de 1971, Albuquerque, Nuevo México, y el teniente Robert Rosenbloom va a morir. Tiene 28 años y es veterano de la US. Army. Sobre las once, el Ford Galaxie del 62, procedente de Oakland, pasa de largo por la Interestatal 40, varias millas al oeste, y Rosenbloom decide detenerlo. En el Ford, cargado con tres rifles militares, una escopeta calibre 12, literatura política, dinamita y granadas, viajan tres miembros de la República Nueva África (RNA): Masheo Sundiata, Antar Ra y Fela Olatunji.

La RNA es una organización política que básicamente pretende fundar una nación afroamericana en cinco estados del sur estadounidense: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia y Carolina del Sur. Rosenbloom probablemente pretenda algo menos ambicioso: asegurarse una detención exitosa.

Alrededor todo es desierto: algún que otro arbusto, alguna que otra sombra. Los tres hombres, que vienen huyendo de las autoridades, bajan del auto. Rosenbloom les pide que abran el maletero y Olatunji le dice que el maletero solo se abre en la estación. Rosenbloom les dice que lo sigan. Pero, evidente, nadie lo va a seguir. Alguien desenfunda un revolver calibre 45. Alguien jala el gatillo y la bala, letal, atraviesa la garganta del teniente. Olatunji se acerca, observa el elegante sombrero de Patrolman en el suelo, cómo crece el charco viscoso de sangre, y comprueba que no haya pulso. No lo hay.

Rosenbloom tiene dos hijos. Tammy, de tres años, y Robert, de dos recién cumplidos.

***

–Ahora tendrán unos cuarenta y tantos.

–Sí, yo estaba pensando el otro día en el varón. Pero si él no vino con veinte o con treinta, y se vistió de ranger y me mató, difícil que lo haga ahora.

Cuando Charles Hill conversa, lo hace con acento extraño. Confunde el género de los sustantivos y los adjetivos y tuerce las palabras, las marea, como si su lengua fuera un tornillo de banco que le doblara los eslabones al castellano.

–Quizás no lo haga él.

–Quizás. Hace poco, después de que subieran el precio por la cabeza de Assata, leí algunas conversaciones entre cazadores de recompensas, valorando la posibilidad de buscarla.

–¿Cómo leyó eso?

–No. No.

–¿Y usted tiene contacto con Assata?

artículo continúa aquí:  Black on the hill

 

“Cuban Five” Hailed as Heroes in Caracas 1

The Cuban Five played a central role in the murder of four members of the humanitarian search-and-rescue group,  "Brothers to the Rescue" members

The Cuban Five played a central role in the murder of four members of the search-and-rescue group, “Brothers to the Rescue”

By Jim Wyss, jwyss@MiamiHerald.com

The five Cuban spies recently released from U.S. custody spent a second day in Venezuela being hailed as heroes and bestowed with honors.

On Tuesday, President Nicolás Maduro honored the men at the National Pantheon, where South American liberator Simon Bolivar is interred, saying that they helped stop “dozens” of U.S. attacks on Cuba, including the bombing of hotels and the killing of foreign tourists.

Maduro also blamed the media for describing the men as “spies,” saying news agencies, including Reuters, Associated Press, AFP and EFE were “machines of media manipulation.”

“They declare war when there needs to be war and they pardon and turn people into angels when they need to be pardoned and turned into angels, even if that person is the world’s biggest murderer,” he said.

The five men were convicted in 2001 of infiltrating South Florida military installations and spying on the exile community. They were also linked to the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes that killed four exile pilots over the Florida Straits.

The last imprisoned members of the spy ring were released in December as Washington and Havana began rapprochement talks. Their release coincided with Cuba’s freeing of USAID contractor Alan Gross. The men are expected to be in Venezuela — Cuba’s closest ally — through Saturday.

Colombian President Asks US to Release Jailed Terrorist 4

"Ivan Marquez" stands next to a cardboard cutout photo of "Simon Trinidad" (Photo courtesy of EFE)

“Ivan Marquez” stands next to a cardboard cutout photo of “Simon Trinidad” (Photo courtesy of EFE)

‘Colombia asked US to repatriate prominent FARC leader’

by Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Report

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has asked the United States to repatriate “Simon Trinidad,” a FARC leader who is serving 60 years in a US prison, an adviser to ongoing peace talks with the guerrilla group said Monday.

According to former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Santos administration asked US Vice-President Joe Biden to see what possibilities exist to repatriate the rebel leader.

Trinidad was convicted in 2007 of conspiring to kidnap three US military contractors, who were held by the FARC between 2003 and 2008.

The FARC has asked for their fellow-rebel’s release since before the peace talks began in November 2012, claiming Trinidad’s release would be an “immense contribution to peace in Colombia.”

The United States at the time turned down the rebel request, saying that “Trinidad committed crimes and will continue to serve his time in jail.”

Simon Trinidad will remain in prison: US

Since then, rebel spokespersons are frequently flanked by a life-size cardboard cutout photo of Trinidad.

Santos’ alleged request to repatriate of the FARC leader appears to be part of a larger effort that also seeks the removal of FARC guerrillas from the United States’ list of extradition requests.

Santos told Spanish newspaper El Pais he would ask Washington to remove FARC members from the extradition list, claiming that “nobody is going to surrender their weapons to go and die in an American prison.”

The Colombian president discussed the ongoing peace talks over the weekend with Bernard Aronson.

The senior US diplomat was appointed Special Envoy for the Colombian Peace Process by US Secretary of State John Kerry less than two weeks ago and has already met with the government and rebel delegations.

US envoy meets FARC peace talks delegates behind closed doors

The leaked secret meetings have not been confirmed or denied by either the US government or the FARC, deemed a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

The FARC have been fighting the Colombian state since 1964.

The United States has long played an active part in the conflict and spent billions of dollars in the first decade of this century to support the Colombian state’s military offensive that pushed the rebels to the periphery of the country.

Since the peace talks began, the warring parties have agreed to a rural reform, political participation for the rebels, and the FARC’s abandoning of drug trafficking.

If the negotiators can come to consensus on transitional justice, victim reparation and a truce, the 50-year-old conflict will come to a formal end.

Kelly: Ex-FBI Chief Tells of Cop-Killer Swap That Cuba Rejected 1

 ASSOCIATED PRESS  Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, above in 2013, said he presented a spies-for-Chesimard trade to Cuba through intermediaries.


ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, above in 2013, said he presented a spies-for-Chesimard trade to Cuba through intermediaries.

By Mike Kelly, Record Columnist -The Record [Bergen County, NJ]

Years before Joanne Chesimard was placed on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists and the bounty for her capture was increased to $2 million, federal authorities secretly reached out to their Cuban counterparts with a plan to bring the convicted cop killer back to New Jersey.

It was the fall of 1998. The FBI drew up a proposal to trade five captured Cuban spies for Chesimard, who had been convicted two decades earlier of killing a New Jersey state trooper in a turnpike gunfight but had broken out of jail and fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum.

Cuban authorities refused to discuss the proposed deal.

Three of those spies were sent back to Cuba in December in exchange for American contractor Alan Gross and a CIA operative. The two others had returned earlier after serving their U.S. prison terms.

The proposed 1998 trade, which has never been publicly acknowledged by either the United States or Cuba, was described in detail in two recent interviews with The Record by one of its originators, former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

Why the plan failed may offer insight about the obstacles facing the state police, the FBI and a host of political figures as they renew efforts to bring back Chesimard. The story also illustrates the legacy of suspicion that permeates U.S.-Cuban relations.

In New Jersey, however, the renewed discussion of Chesimard’s fugitive status has reopened old wounds that date to an unsettling time in America — a time that was punctuated by a horrific confrontation on the New Jersey Turnpike between state troopers and members of the Black Liberation Army who were calling for an armed revolution.

Just before midnight on May 2, 1973, Chesimard, then 25, was traveling south with two male compatriots when two troopers stopped their car. Within minutes a wild gunbattle broke out, leaving Trooper Werner Foerster dead and his partner wounded.

Chesimard, who also was wounded, was later caught, charged with murder and sentenced to a life term. But in 1979, she escaped from the state women’s prison in Clinton and disappeared, only to turn up five years later in Cuba.

Chesimard, 67, and reportedly living in the Havana area under the name Assata Shakur, is regarded as a criminal by U.S. authorities. Cuba has never shown any inclination to rescind her political asylum, which was granted by Fidel Castro in the mid-1980s.

In the fall of 1998, however, Freeh thought he saw an opening for U.S. authorities to get their hands on Chesimard.

Feature continues here:  Chesimard deal

 

Christie to Obama: Get Chesimard From Cuba 2

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba. (Photo: Associated Press)

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba. (Photo: Associated Press)

William Westhoven, @Wwesthoven, Daily Record

Gov. Chris Christie has joined the growing call by New Jersey leaders demanding that Cuba return fugitive cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard as part of any negotiations the United States enters to normalize relations with its long-estranged neighbor.

The governor’s office issued a release on Sunday that included a copy of a letter sent by Christie to President Barak Obama, dated Dec. 18, urging him to “demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.”

“Cuba’s provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer, and her ability to elude justice, is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice,” Christie wrote.

Christie wrote he did not share the president’s hopes that opening relations would reverse decades of human-rights abuse under the Castro regime, but that current developments provide the opportunity for Cuba to prove it is serious about change by sending Chesimard back to New Jersey.

“I ask you to use this opportunity to engage with the Cuban government to get this resolved, and I am very disappointed that returning a convicted killer of a police officer was not already demanded and accomplished in the context of the steps you announced regarding this dictatorship,” Christie wrote. “The family of her victims, like so many of those who have, and continue to suffer under the Castro regime, deserve this basic decency before further steps toward Cuba are taken by this government.”

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, (R-Harding), Sen. Robert Menendez and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes led a strong negative response from New Jersey leaders in the immediate aftermath of Obama’s historic announcement on Wednesday of a prisoner swap and new efforts to open relations with Cuba for the first time since a trade embargo was established 54 years ago.

At issue was the return of Chesimard, a former member of the revolutionary Black Liberation Army convicted of murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. Following her 1977 trial in New Brunswick, before a jury selected from Morris County residents, she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in Hunterdon County on Nov. 2, 1979, in a brazen breakout executed by three armed BLA members.

Feature continues here: America’s Most Wanted 

 

 

 

Cuba Demands Removal from List of State Sponsors of Terrorism 1

ETA members fire blanks during the Day of the Basque Soldier of 2006

ETA members fire blanks during the Day of the Basque Soldier of 2006

Communist country continues to sponsor terror groups around the world

By Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon

Cuba’s communist government is demanding its removal from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism despite its continued support for regimes that sponsor terrorism worldwide.

Cuba was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982 and remained so in the State Department’s release this week of its most recent country reports on terrorism.

The report noted that Cuba “has long provided safe haven” to members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) separatist group in Spain, as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Both are still considered terrorist groups by the United States and European Union but have participated in peace talks in recent years. Cuba also continues to “harbor fugitives wanted in the United States,” the report added.

The report did not mention Cuba’s continued support for terrorism and violent repression directed by the governments of Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. Still, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said it should be taken off the list.

“The Foreign Ministry energetically rejects the manipulation of a matter as sensitive as international terrorism by turning it into an instrument of policy against Cuba and it demands that our country be definitively excluded from this spurious, unilateral and arbitrary list,” the government said in a statement.

The State Department responded that it had “no current plans” to remove Cuba from the list.

Cuba has most recently come under scrutiny for its role in advising the Venezuelan military. The communist island has reportedly sent hundreds of military advisers to Venezuela in exchange for about 100,000 barrels of oil a day.

Critics say the current repression of protesters by Venezuela’s government is reminiscent of the “Cuban model.” Trained and well-armed civilian groups known as “Bolivarian Circles” or “colectivos”—akin to the Castros’ “committees to defend the revolution”—are accused of killing several protesters in the last three months. About 40 people total have died in the demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

 Article continues here:  Cuban Support to Terrorists