- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2017

The Obama administration signed a law-enforcement agreement with Cuba Monday that doesn’t call for the return of U.S. fugitives, including former Black Panther Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted for killing a New Jersey police officer.

The pact was signed by Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the de facto U.S. ambassador in Havana, and the Cuban Interior minister Julio César Gandarilla. It covers a broad range of law-enforcement topics, such as counternarcotics operations.

Also present at the signing was White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who played a key role in forging Mr. Obama’s policy of restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2014.

The agreement does not include a return of U.S. fugitives that Cuba has harbored, including Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur. Convicted of murder for the shooting death of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, she escaped prison in 1979 and received asylum from Cuba. The omission of fugitives from the agreement was first reported by USA Today.

Cuba’s shielding of Chesimard and other U.S. fugitives, including Puerto Rican nationalist William Morales, wanted for the 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing in New York City that killed four and wounded 50, has been a source of friction between the two governments for decades.

The agreement comes after the administration announced last week that it has ended the long-standing “wet foot, dry foot” policy that granted legal status to Cubans who safely reached the U.S. shore.

The White House said Mr. Obama’s goal is “to help the Cuban people achieve a better future for themselves and to advance the interests of the United States.”

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