On Cuba, Obama Again Comes Up Short at Negotiating Table

Saturday, May 9, 2015
By U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) in The Star-Ledger:

On Cuba, Obama again comes up short at negotiating table

I never met New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. I never made the acquaintance of his widow or his family or friends. But I know he lived, he served the people of New Jersey with distinction and, sadly, he died doing the job he loved.

Trooper Foerster was killed in cold blood over forty years ago by Joanne Chesimard, a fugitive who now lives in freedom in Cuba.

That is why I found President Obama's stage appearance with Cuban dictator Raul Castro at the recent Organization of American States Summit particularly disturbing.

But then it occurred to me: maybe the President Obama just never saw a newspaper article or media report about Trooper Foerster or his killer!

Maybe he does not know that Chesimard was convicted of killing Trooper Foerster with his own handgun while he lied on the ground along the New Jersey Turnpike.

It is possible that President Obama has not read that Chesimard stood trial in New Jersey, was convicted of murder and was sentenced to life plus at least 26 years in prison for her crimes.

Maybe President Obama is not aware that she escaped from prison in Clinton, in part, by kidnapping a corrections officer and a prison driver.

Perhaps he did not know that Chesimard fled to Cuba in the 1980s and was quickly granted political asylum by Fidel Castro's regime?

And I guess it is possible that President Obama has not seen media accounts that since then confirm that Chesimard is on the FBI's most wanted list, right next to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri!

So, despite these facts, President Obama enthusiastically builds a case for wide-open relations with the Castro regime with no apparent strings attached. And, he's fighting to lift travel and trade restrictions on the backs of decades of oppression.

As with his dealings with Iran's leadership, President Obama has shown himself to be an awful negotiator who gives more than he receives. In the case of Cuba, he appears to be handing the Castro regime everything it wants, including deletion from the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, without placing serious demands on the Castro government.

We all know that Cuba continues, to this day, to detain, imprison, prosecute and otherwise restrict its citizens' rights to express their political views. But besides harboring several known cop killers, arsonists and terrorist bombers, Cuba has colluded with North Korea to smuggle jets and other weaponry in direct violation of U.N. resolutions, trafficked in arms and explosives, launched cyber-attacks, confiscated private assets and provided financing to African revolutionary groups, in addition to providing aid and comfort to all sorts of malevolent groups in our hemisphere.

This is why I decided to co-sponsor the Cuba Human Rights Act (H.R. 1782) and legislation aimed at blocking President Obama's intention to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

How ironic it is that Castro brothers jail their own countrymen for their views and yet protect the freedom of a fugitive convicted killer from another country?

Mr. President, I hope you read this column and before you agree to any more concessions to Cuba, you will make sure Joanne Chesimard is back in a New Jersey prison to answer for her crimes.