MIAMI — President Donald Trump on Friday demanded that Cuba return a woman convicted of the murder of a New Jersey state trooper as he announced changes to Obama-era policy toward the country.
Trump made the demand for the return of “the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard,” who was convicted in 1977 in the death of Trooper Werner Foerster. Foerster was killed during a gunfight after a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.
Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison but escaped in November 1979 and eventually traveled to Cuba. Fidel Castro granted her asylum, and she has been living under the name Assata Shakur.
New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat, said that he was pleased that Trump called for Chesimard’s return and by the other changes announced Friday in Miami.
“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction to reverse an ill-advised and misguided Cuba policy that has failed to deliver on its promises, left the Cuban people worse off, and allowed American fugitives, like wanted terrorist and cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, to escape justice,” Menendez said.
GOP Gov. Chris Christie has also urged the Republican Trump administration to make Chesimard’s return to the United States part of any change in Cuba policy.
“I want to commend President Trump for speaking out so strongly and forcefully demanding the return of Joanne Chesimard to face justice in New Jersey for the murder of Trooper Foerster,” Christie said. “His defense of the New Jersey State Police and the rule of law should give great confidence to every American who supports our system of justice.”
Col. Rick Fuentes, head of the state police, said that he is “more hopeful than ever for the return of” Chesimard.