Today, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S and Cuba are in talks to eliminate trade embargoes that were placed on Cuba decades ago, and opening up talks of trade between the two countries.
This sounds like a great diplomatic move for Barack and the U.S. Cuba has long been seen as a country that has been moving away from their Communist past and moving toward a more open future.
What popped in my mind about the announcement was, “what happens to Assata Shakur?”
The Black Panther and God mother to Tupac Shakur was pulled over on May 2 1973, by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice and then charged with murder of a police officer.
Assata spent six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba.
My name is Assata (“she who struggles”) Olugbala ( “for the people” ) Shakur (“the thankful one”), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.
Her escape and entrance into Cuba has been a mystery for years. Even in her autobiography, she doesn’t mentioned how she escaped or ended up in Cuba.
What is known is that Conservative members of congress have been wanting her extradition for a longtime. They even went as far as passing a bill to extradite her using her government name, Joanne Chesimard to convince those who supported her staying in Cuba to side with them.
With this new announcement, will they finally get their wished.
It would be sad to see. Her story is truly one to learn and get to know, especially now that we ware working on having a more “friendly” relationship with out southern neighbor.
Read excerpts from her autobiography here