Friday, June 28, 2013

Cuba No Longer a Haven for U.S. Fugitives

Cuba No Longer a Haven for U.S. Fugitives
Jun 27 2013 11:51AM
Isaac Risco, dpa

Cuba would not be a safe place for US whistleblower Edward Snowden,
according to analysts, who say Havana does not want to strain relations
with Washington as political pragmatism gains ground on the island.

"Cuba has no national or political interest in receiving Snowden. And
given his libertarian stance, Snowden is unlikely to want to associate
his cause with Cuba," says Cuban-American expert Arturo Lopez Levy from
Denver University.

The former intelligence contractor, who exposed details of US online
spying activities, has been reportedly trapped in Moscow with no valid
travel document after the United States cancelled his passport on Saturday.

Snowden is believed to be at a Moscow airport, from where he had been
expected to fly to Ecuador via Cuba. But he did not board the plane to

Snowden may have received the message that Cuba could arrest and even
return him to the US, Anya Landau French wrote in The Havana Note blog,
which covers US-Cuba relations.

For decades, Cuba was a safe haven for dozens of fugitives wanted in the
US and elsewhere. They include Joanne Chesimard, a Black Panther
activist convicted of killing a police officer in New Jersey in 1973.

Chesimard, who the FBI recently included on its list of most-wanted
terrorists, is believed to have been living in Cuba since 1984.

Cuba has also given refuge to members of Spain's Basque separatist group

The island is currently home to more than 70 fugitives, according to
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a US congresswoman of Cuban origin who is known as
a fierce critic of President Raul Castro's regime.

US-Cuban relations have also been strained by the case of Alan Gross, a
US government subcontractor who was convicted of spying and sentenced in
2011 to 15 years in prison.

But now, with Raul Castro introducing timid economic reforms, a greater
political pragmatism is seen as gaining ground.

A recent reform made it easier for Cubans to travel abroad. And Cuba is
discussing migration-related questions with the United States, where
hundreds of thousands of Cubans have sought exile over the decades.

Cuba is on the US black list of states protecting terrorists, and the
two countries have no extradition treaty.

But that did not hamper swift cooperation in early April, when it took
Havana just 48 hours to repatriate a US couple that had abducted its own
children after losing custody over them and fled to Cuba.

The case reflects an interest in Havana in not straining relations with
Washington, even if Cuba still does not want to make "unilateral and
definitive concessions" without receiving anything in return, Lopez Levy
told dpa.

The analyst said: "If Cuba cannot receive tangible benefits from other
players, such as Moscow or Beijing in this case, it would prefer to keep
Snowden as far away as possible."

Source: "Cuba No Longer a Haven for U.S. Fugitives -" -

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