[Congressional Record: September 14, 1998]
CALLING ON GOVERNMENT OF CUBA TO EXTRADITE
JOANNE CHESIMARD TO UNITED STATES
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules
and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 254) calling
on the Government of Cuba to return to the United States convicted
felon Joanne Chesimard and all other individuals who have fled the
United States to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses
and who are currently living freely in Cuba, as amended. The Clerk
read as follows:
H. Con. Res. 254
Whereas on May 2, 1973, Joanne Chesimard and 2
friends were stopped in their vehicle by New Jersey State Troopers
James Harper and Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike;
while being questioned, Ms. Chesimard and the driver opened fire
with automatic pistols striking Trooper Werner Foerster twice in
the chest and Trooper James Harper in the left shoulder;
the suspects then turned Trooper Foerster's own weapon on him firing
an additional two bullets into his head execution style;
this heinous and premeditated act resulted in the tragic death of
New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster;
Whereas Trooper Foerster
left behind a wife, Rose Foerster, and family;
Whereas in 1977,
after a 6 week trial, a jury found Ms. Chesimard guilty of first-degree
murder for the slaying of Trooper Foerster, a respected New Jersey
State Trooper; Whereas as a result of this conviction Ms. Chesimard
was sentenced to life in a New Jersey State prison;
Whereas in 1979,
Ms. Chesimard broke free from a maximum security cell at the Reformatory
for Women in Clinton, New Jersey, with the help of 4 men who took
a guard and prison van driver hostage;
Whereas after escaping prison,
Ms. Chesimard fled to Cuba for political asylum;
Whereas the Federal
Bureau of Investigation lists 77 felony fugitives known to have
been granted safe haven by the Cuban Government, including Robert
Vesco, Frank Terpil, and Victor Gerena, wanted for, or convicted
of, violent crimes, including murder, robbery, kidnapping, air piracy,
Whereas these individuals have been indicted or convicted
of criminal offenses in the United States and have not paid their
debt to society;
Whereas people in New Jersey were shocked and outraged
to see television interviews showing Ms. Chesimard living freely
in Cuba, portraying herself as the victim and denying any crimes
against Trooper Foerster;
Whereas the Governor of New Jersey, Christine
Whitman, has requested Federal assistance from Attorney General
Janet Reno for the return of Ms. Chesimard;
and Whereas Members
of Congress have petitioned Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
requesting that the Department of State do everything in its power
to have Joanne Chesimard, and all other individuals who have fled
the United States to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal
offenses and who are currently living freely in Cuba, returned to
the United States in order for them to face prosecution or confinement
in the United States:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House
of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense
of Congress that--
(1) the Government of Cuba should extradite to
the United States convicted murderer Joanne Chesimard in order for
her to complete her life sentence for the murder of New Jersey State
Trooper Werner Foerster;
(2) the Government of Cuba should extradite
to the United States all other individuals who have fled the United
States to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses
and who are currently living freely in Cuba in order for them to
face prosecution or confinement in the United States;
and (3) the
extradition from Cuba to the United States of all individuals who
have fled the United States to avoid prosecution or confinement
for criminal offenses and who are currently living in Cuba should
be a top priority for the United States Government.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Petri). Pursuant to the rule, the
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and the gentleman from
California (Mr. Lantos), each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).
Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I strongly support this resolution which calls on the Cuban regime to
return Joanne Cheismard to the United States. It is shameful and
unacceptable that Fidel Castro continues to harbor murderers and other
hardened criminals like Ms. Chesimard. The victims of her crime, New
Jersey State trooper Werner Foerster and his widow Rose and their
family, have been denied justice by Fidel Castro.
In approving this resolution, the committee made an amendment which
underscores that ``the Federal Bureau of Investigation lists 90 felony
fugitives known to have been granted safe haven by the Cuban
government.'' These include Robert Vesco, Victor Gerena, who is on the
FBI's top 10 most wanted listed, and Trank Terpil, a rogue CIA agent
wanted for selling explosives to Libyan dictator Mu'ammar Qadhafi.
I commend the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Franks) for sponsoring
this resolution. Our colleague on the committee, the gentlewoman from
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is a cosponsor, as is the gentleman from
Florida (Mr. Diaz-Balart); in addition, the gentleman from New Jersey
(Mr. Menendez) who is also a member of our committee. They have been
steadfast advocates for the Foerster family, and I thank them for their
I would additionally like to thank New Jersey Governor Christine
Todd-Whitman for exercising personal leadership in pressing for the
passage of this resolution calling on the Cuban government to see that
justice is done for the Foerster family. This terrible tragedy dragged
on far too long, due exclusively to Fidel Castro's intransigence.
Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H. Con. Res.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume,
and I rise in strong support of H. Con. Res. 254, calling on the
government of Cuba to return to the United States convicted felon
Joanne Chesimard and all other individuals who fled the United States
to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and who are
currently living freely in Cuba.
Providing a safe haven for fugitives from prosecution in the United
States is one of the many concerns that we had with the government of
Cuba. The case of Joanne Chisemard is particularly egregious and we are
right to call this body's attention to it. Chesimard was sentenced to
life for the murder of a New Jersey State trooper. She escaped from
prison, fled to Cuba where she is currently living.
I strongly urge the adoption of this resolution, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to
the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), who has been very much
involved in this issue as well.
Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for
yielding me the time.
I am very proud to be one of the cosponsors of H. Con. Res. 254,
which condemns the government of Cuba for harboring Joanne Chesimard
and other fugitives who have committed brutal crimes in the United
States. I want to thank my good friend and colleague, the gentleman
from New Jersey (Mr. Franks) for introducing this important resolution
and working for its passage.
As most of us here know, Joanne Chesimard was convicted in 1977 of
first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for her brutal
execution style murder of trooper Foerster. She escaped from jail in
1979 and subsequently fled to Cuba where she was given political
asylum. This escaped murderer now lives a very comfortable life in Cuba
and has launched a public relations campaign in which she attempts to
portray herself as an innocent victim rather than a cold-blooded
The protection Chesimard and others enjoy in Cuba is yet another
example of the lawlessness of the Castro dictatorship. The only truly
satisfactory solution is democracy and self-determination for the
people of Cuba. In the meantime, however, I believe it is shameful that
the Clinton administration has made deal after deal with the Castro
government, giving concession after concession, while Chesimard and
other felons are living the high life in Havana.
I would like to thank members of the Committee on International
Relations. They backed some amendments that I had offered during markup
which changed some of the wording. The bottom line is we need to make
sure that we bring these murderers and felons, and there are many of
them, to justice. For the family, the Foerster family, that lost its
loved one, we will not rest until she is behind bars where she belongs
for the rest of her life.
I want to thank, again, my good friend, the gentleman from Jersey
(Mr. Franks) for offering this. I hope that it will get the full
support of the body.
Mr. FRANKS of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my
colleagues to support the passage of H. Con. Res. 254, a resolution
which I introduced on March 30.
It calls upon Fidel Castro, the dictator of the imprisoned island of
Cuba, to return to the United States all the fugitives from American
justice that he is harboring in his country.
Under Castro, Cuba has become a haven for terrorists, murderers,
rapists, kidnappers and drug dealers who have sought refuge in Cuba in
order to avoid prosecution and imprisonment in the United States.
According to the FBI, there are now 77 American fugitives living in
Let me tell you about one of them.
Earlier this year, I was shocked to turn on the local television news
and see Joanne Chesimard, a cold-blooded cop killer, living freely in
Twenty-five years ago, Joanne Chesimard gunned down two state
troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike. After firing at Trooper Werner
Foerster and hitting him twice in the chest, Chesimard grabbed the
trooper's gun and fired two more bullets execution-style into his head.
Six years later--after serving just two years of a life sentence for
first-degree murder--a group of revolutionaries assisted her in a
daring and successful escape. She has been given a new, comfortable
life in Cuba--thanks to Fidel Castro.
It's a tragic irony that while some of America's most vicious killers
live comfortable lives in Cuba, many of Cuba's own natives languish in
prisons merely for speaking out against the communist dictatorship.
This resolution sends a strong message to Castro: Return Joanne
Chesimard and all the other felons you are harboring. They must be
returned to the United States so that they can be sent to prison in
order to serve out their full sentences and repay their debt to
Mrs. ROUKEMA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Con.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1973, Joanne Chesimard ruthlessly gunned
down two New Jersey State Troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike.
She approached one of the wounded Troopers, who laid bleeding and
dying, grabbed his own gun and fired two shots, point-blank, execution
style in the back of his head.
Chesimard was captured and convicted of this brutal murder and sent
She broke out of prison and now lives freely in Cuba just 90 miles
off the U.S. coast.
She is not alone, many other convicted felons live in Cuba. This
Resolution calls for justice to be served. It demands that Castro
extradite Chesimard and other criminals so they can face justice in the
Justice must be served. It is cruel and morally wrong for Cuba to
allow a safe harbor for these criminals while Cuba has sent its own
religious leaders to suffer in prison.
I stand united with the families of the slain, the New Jersey State
Police, and all citizens of New Jersey in demanding Cuba return Joanne
I strongly urge my Colleagues to support this resolution.
Mr. PAPPAS. Mr. Speaker, on May 2, 1973 a terrible tragedy occurred
in the State of New Jersey when Joanne Chesimard killed New Jersey
State Trooper Werner Foerster leaving behind his wife and family. Ms.
Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison for this heinous crime in our
state and rightly so. But she escaped and fled to Cuba where she has
the high life. She sips pina coladas, walks on the white sandy beaches,
and swims in the crystal clear water. This is a grave injustice.
This is wrong and our government must do everything in its power to
bring her back to serve out her sentence. Instead, the Clinton
administration talks of easing the embargo knowing that Cuba is
harboring violent criminals.
Fugitives such as Chesimard are cowards and for Cuba to invite them
in and treat them like royalty is clearly wrong. I urge Secretary
Albright and Attorney General Reno to do all they can to bring these
criminals back to the U.S. to face justice.
I co-sponsored this legislation because I want our government to use
all means possible to pressure Cuba to return Ms. Chesimard and every
other criminal which Cuba harbors. We must fight for justice.
I commend Congressman Franks and Governor Whitman for being such
strong advocates of this cause and I welcome the passage of this
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, it is the time to send a unequivocal signal
to Fidel Castro that the United States Congress finds his regime's
harboring of terrorists, murderers and other hardened criminals wanted
in the United States shameful and unacceptable.
H. Con. Res. 254 draws attention to the cold-blooded murder twenty-
five years ago of a New Jersey State Trooper, Werner Foerster. Joanne
Chesimard was convicted of this heinous murder but, in 1979, escaped to
Joanne Chesimard now lives under Fidel Castro's protection in Cuba.
Back in New Jersey, Trooper Foerster's widow and family are denied the
justice of seeing the woman who took him from them pay for her crime.
This is not an isolated case. Our Federal Bureau of Investigation
lists 90 felony fugitives known to have been granted safe haven by the
This resolution has broad bipartisan support. The gentleman from New
Jersey, Mr. Franks sponsored this resolution with our colleague on the
Committee, the gentlelady from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and the
gentleman from Florida, Mr. Diaz-Balart. the gentleman from New Jersey,
Mr. Menendez, who is also a member of our Committee, has for years
supported the Foerster family's efforts to bring Joanne Chesimard back
to the United States to serve her sentence.
I would like to recognize New Jersey Governor Christine Todd-Whitman
who wrote to me to ask that we pass this resolution.
Just today, we have had another sobering reminder of Fidel Castro's
undiminished efforts to attack American interests. the FBI announced in
Miami that ten people have been charged with spying for the Cuban
government by trying to penetrate our Miami-based U.S. Southern
Command, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and the Boca Chica Naval Air
Station in Key West.
The FBI reports that Castro's spies also sought to infiltrate Cuban-
American groups and manipulate other political groups and the U.S.
Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H. Con.
Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I urge unanimous support for this
resolution, and I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Morella). The question is on the motion
offered by the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) that the House
suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res.
254, as amended.
The question was taken.
Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 5 of rule I and the
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be
H. Con. Res. 254. Concurrent resolution calling on the Government
of Cuba to extradite to the United States convicted felon Joanne Chesimard
and all other individuals who have fled the United States to avoid
prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and who are currently
living freely in Cuba, to the Committee on Foreign Relations.