U.S. and Cuba Discuss Counterterrorism Cooperation

On June 8, U.S. and Cuba officials met in Havana to conduct their first Counterterrorism Technical Exchange. The U.S. delegation included representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Department of State. The Cuban delegation was from the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General’s Office and General Customs of the Republic.[1]

Before the meeting the Department of State said, “Coordination and cooperation on counterterrorism has been one of several important topics discussed in law enforcement dialogues between the United States and Cuba. We welcome the opportunity to bring together technical experts to discuss this topic of common interest.”

Afterwards, the Cuban Foreign Ministry merely said that the meeting was conducted with “respect and professionalism” and that “both parties agreed on the importance of progress in cooperation in this sphere and agreed to continue the meetings of technicians on the topic.”

Outsiders speculated that the meeting may have included discussions about a possible high-profile prisoner swap: U.S.-jailed Cuban spy Ana Belén Montes in exchange for longtime American fugitive in Cuba, Joanne Chesimard (n/k/a Assata Shakur). The State Department, however, has refused to confirm that such an exchange was being discussed. Instead the Department merely stated that the U.S. “continues to seek the return of Cuba of fugitives from US justice” and that the State Department “brings out the cases of fugitives to the Cuban Government to be settled and will continue to do so at every appropriate opportunity.”[2]

Montes on September 21, 2001 (10 days after 9/11), was arrested and subsequently charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for the Cuban government during the 16 years she worked as an analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. The charges also stated she had revealed the identities of four U.S. secret agents. Montes eventually pleaded guilty to spying, and in October 2002 she was sentenced to a 25-year prison term followed by five years’ probation. Recently an international campaign has been started to seek her release from U.S. prison.

Chesimard/Shakur, as discussed in a prior post, was convicted in a New Jersey state court for participation in the murder a state trooper in 1973 and sentenced to life imprisonment, but in 1979 broke out of a New Jersey prison and in 1984 fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum and perhaps Cuban citizenship.


[1] Dep’t of State, United States and Cuba To Hold first Counterterrorism Technical Exchange in Havana (June 7, 2016); Minrex, Cuban and U.S. officials discuss counterterrorism, Granma (June 9, 2016).

[2] Ayuso, United States and Cuba speak of terrorism, ElPais (June 9, 2016); Torres, Speculation rises over possible exchange of Cuba spy for American fugitive, InCubaToday (June 8, 2016); Ana Montes, Wikipedia; Latell, New revelations about Cuban spy Ana Montes, Miami Herald (Aug. 2, 2014); Whitney, Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes, counterpunch (Feb. 8, 2016).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

7 thoughts on “U.S. and Cuba Discuss Counterterrorism Cooperation”

  1. I doubt the Cubans will let Chesimard go. But surely they must have some other prisoners, or can create some, whom they would swap for Montes. And we shouldn’t forget Meyer Kendall too.

    As for co operating on terrorism. I reckon the US will get the worst of the deal. The Cubans don’t have anyone except Chesimard who could remotely be called an anti-American terrorist, whereas the US harbors dozens of such people, having trained and armed many of them, including a man who blew up a civilian airliner. So the Cubans really don’t have anything to trade. And what’s more, the current American expertise is on the terrorism committed by the adherents of the Religion of Peace, who don’t care, at the moment at least, about Latin America.

  2. Comment: Some U.S. Fugitives in Cuba Not Worried About Extradition

    According to the Associated Press, two American fugitives in Cuba say they have been assured by the Cuban government that they will not be extradited to the U.S.[1]

    One is Charles Hill who is wanted in the 1971 killing of a New Mexico state policeman Another, Nehanda Aviodunm, is wanted in a 1981 armored car robbery that left two police officers and a security guard dead.

    The subject of fugitives apparently came up in this May’s second round of law-enforcement talks, not the June 8 discussions about counterterrorism. See United States and Cuba Hold Second Law Enforcement Dialogue (May 18, 2016), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2016/05/19/united-states-and-cuba-hold-second-law-enforcement-dialogue.

    [1] Assoc. Press, US Fugitives Say Cuba Has Reassured Them They Are Safe, N.Y. Times (June 10, 2016) , http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/06/10/world/americas/ap-cb-cuba-us-fugitives.html

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