President Donald Trump has asked Cuba to return American fugitive Assata Shakur to the United States, but a top Cuban official has said that the country’s government has no plans to.
“I can say it is off the table,” Gustavo Machin, deputy director for American affairs at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reportedly told Yahoo News.
Assata Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and 1970s, and was convicted in 1977 of murdering a police officer. Many believe Shakur was targeted and framed by COINTELPRO, an FBI-sanctioned program that was used to neutralize people and organizations involved in the Civil Rights Movement (among others).
Shakur served six and a half years in prison before escaping in 1979 and fleeing to Cuba, where she received political asylum from Fidel Castro. She has lived in Cuba ever since, and remains on the FBI’s most wanted fugitives list, with a $2 million bounty. Artists like The Roots, Jay Z, and Common, who has a song titled “A Song For Assata,” have all mentioned or paid homage to her legacy in their music.
Last week, President Donald Trump revealed plans to cancel policy from the Obama Adminstration that eased longstanding tensions between America and Cuba. He then called for Cuba to “return the fugitives from American justice, including the return of the cop killer Joanne Chesimard,” referring to Shakur by her former name.
Machin said Cuba has no plans to return her to the U.S., because its government believes that she was unjustly imprisoned in the first place.
“There are very serious doubts about that case,” Machin said. “We consider that a politically motivated case against that lady.”
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