Castro Defends Fugitive Sought by U.S.
May 11, 11:29 PM (ET)
By John Rice
(AP) - President Fidel Castro has rejected calls to hand over a
black militant convicted in 1973 of killing a New Jersey state trooper,
saying she's a victim of racial persecution and not a terrorist,
officials declared recently.
"They wanted to portray her as a terrorist,
something that was an
injustice, a brutality, an infamous lie," Castro said in a
address Tuesday night.
While Castro did not identify the woman by name,
he was clearly alluding
to Assata Shakur - the former Joanne Chesimard - who was put on
government terrorist watch list May 2. On the same day, New Jersey
officials announced a $1 million reward for her capture.
Castro's remarks were his first comment on the
new U.S. actions.
A member of the Black Liberation Army, Shakur,
57, was convicted of
killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster as he lay on the
ground. She escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba.
Castro referred to her as a victim of "the
fierce repression against the
black movement in the United States" and said she had been
"They have always been hunting her, searching
for her because of the
fact that there was an accident in which a policeman died,"
reflecting Shakur's assertion that she did not shoot the officer.
Castro said an appeal for her expulsion had been
raised with him several
years ago by a woman who was both "a friend of Cuba" and
a friend of
former President Clinton.
"I transmitted my opinion to the president
of the United States," he
said, though he did not specify who raised the issue nor when she
visited. He made clear the case involved New Jersey.
Castro suggested that the action was meant to divert
Cuba's demand that U.S. officials arrest Luis Posada Carriles, who
wanted in Venezuela on charges of involvement in blowing up a civilian
Cuban jetliner in 1976, killing 73 people.
His attorney has said that Posada, a former CIA
employee, slipped into
the United States and is seeking asylum. Posada denies any role
Castro, in a televised appearence Wednesday that
lasted four hours,
stepped up his denunciations of the U.S. government for failure
Castro read summaries of newly released U.S. intelligence
linking Posada and other anti-Castro militants to terrorist attacks
beyond the 1976 bombing of a jetliner that killed 73 people.
The Cuban leader previously has called for a massive
rally on May 17 in
front of the U.S. Interests Section, or diplomatic mission, to demand
the arrest of Posada.
He dedicated most of Tuesday's remarks to descriptions
terrorist actions that Cuba alleges Posada and his anti-Castro
associates have committed over the past 35 years.
Castro referred to earlier published suggestions
that Posada and
Florida-based exile Orlando Bosch could have been involved in the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
"There are strange things, very strange, mixed
up here," Castro said.