WASHINGTON – U.S. and Cuban representatives began formal talks at the U.S. State Department Monday on law enforcement, an issue that has solid bilateral cooperation but where differences continue to persist, such as on extradition of fugitives of both nations.
The State Department issued a statement after the meeting saying “The conversation focused on a range of areas of cooperation, including the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, transnational crime, cybercrime, security in travel and trade, and the fugitives.”
For more than three decades, U.S. had blacklisted Cuba as state sponsors of terrorism for sheltering fugitives of American Justice, such as members of Basque terrorist group ETA and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, but removed it from the list in April without withdrawing its extradition demands.
The most famous of those fugitives is Joanne Chesimard, who for the past two years has been on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists based on her conviction as an accomplice to the killing of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.
Another of the fugitives is William “Guillermo” Morales, a Puerto Rican independence extremist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1979 for manufacturing bombs but managed to flee to Mexico and later to Cuba, according to the FBI’s Web page.
Cuba, on the other hand, accuses ex-CIA Luis Posada Carriles, of Cuban-Venezuelan origin, allegedly living in Florida now, of carrying out multiple attacks in Havana in 1997 and bombing a Cuban commercial flight that killed 73.
Despite the fugitive problem, experts believe there are good prospects for agreements on law enforcement and the delegations will continue their talks to concrete technical meetings between agencies from both countries during the first half of 2016.