Op-Ed

Unless you’re a somebody, a vacation in Cuba won’t be a breeze

Celebrity Paris Hilton, in Cuba last year, takes a selfie with Fidel Castro’s son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart.
Celebrity Paris Hilton, in Cuba last year, takes a selfie with Fidel Castro’s son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart. AP

President Obama is going to Cuba next week, the first official state visit by a sitting president in more than 80 years. This visit surely will be followed by regularly scheduled domestic air and cruise ship service, rock concerts, major sporting events, U.S. corporate investment and thousands of American tourists curious to see Marxism up close — and how an entire country can be reduced to an underclass.

In return, Cuba will promise to embrace human rights and throw open its door to free market capitalism.

That’s not going to happen. I join many in recognizing that normalizing relations with Cuba will have little impact on the welfare of the Cuban people or their impoverished state.

Most of the tourists will likely travel to Havana. There is a sprinkling of four- and five-star hotels along the scenic port and bay of Havana, several of which have at their backs the barrios of the Old City and Centro Habana. There seems to be something beautiful and rustic about the panorama of poverty when it is viewed from the upper floors of a luxury hotel.

Tourists to Cuba, please be careful. You are not dignitaries with security teams or part of a pampered and propagandized political delegation fattened and flattered by the type of cuisine and accommodations most Cubans can only dream about.

I’m not saying that the jittery Cuban military and police aren’t interested in your movements on the island, but you will have no visible escorts or other functional layers of protection.

You also should know that some of America’s most wanted terrorists are living openly in Cuba. They roam the island freely and are still dangerous revolutionaries, disenchanted about all things American. It is highly unlikely that the Cuban landscape will be swept of their presence before your arrival because U.S. government negotiators speaking on behalf of the Obama administration seem to lack both the will and intent to press the Castro brothers for their return to the United States to answer for their crimes.

Make no mistake, however, about the will and intent of Gov. Chris Christie and the New Jersey State Police to continue to advocate strongly against their coddled, privileged status of political asylum. Four of them, Joanne Chesimard, William Guillermo Morales, Victor Manuel Gerena and Charles Hill hail from U.S.-based domestic terror organizations whose violent track records have brought about the deaths of 17 police officers, five American civilians, two members of the U.S. military and a string of 159 bombings that have destroyed the lives and families of many more. Gerena remains on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, and Chesimard holds distinction of being the only woman among the FBI’s Most Wanted International Terrorists list.

The FBI and the state of New Jersey continue to pledge a $2 million reward for Chesimard’s return to prison for her conviction in the murder of a New Jersey trooper in 1973.

My connection to Trooper Werner Foerster’s murder by Joanne Chesimard and several accomplices runs the breadth of my career. From the time of her escape from a New Jersey prison on Nov. 2, 1979, to my deeper investigative involvement in her flight from justice while assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the mid-’80s, and into my current role as colonel and superintendent, the New Jersey State Police, and I have never lost the determination to see her returned to prison.

Before you depart for a long-awaited Cuban vacation, visit www.njsp.org to find the most updated photographs of these four terrorist fugitives. If your walks about the island crosses the path of any of them, report it immediately to the U.S. Embassy in Havana — (53) (7) 839-4100, a handy number to keep to help mitigate many of the unforeseen perils of travel to Cuba.

Enjoy your trip.

Col. Rick Fuentes is superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

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