Improved diplomatic ties with Cuba
have not made it any easier for the United States to extradite fugitives from American justice, the Sun Sentinel
Cuba has yet to return a single fugitive since renewed ties between the two nations were announced in December.
Sen. Marco Rubio, whose parents are from Cuba, said Friday that talks on extraditing fugitives hiding in Cuba are a "critical part" of talks with the communist government.
"No one seems to have a good answer about why it isn't a higher priority," the Florida Republican said. "I think it's outrageous that there are people living in Cuba, with tens of millions of dollars they stole from the American taxpayers, with no consequences."
The U.S. Marshals Service is seeking to take 500 Cuban-born people into custody. Federal officials estimate that as many as 130 fugitives are in Cuba, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Gilberto Martinez, wanted on credit card charges, has not been returned even though he was arrested by Cuban authorities last month.
"A lot of folks come here and they take advantage of the great opportunities this country gives them and commit crimes and steal money and leave the jurisdiction," said U.S. Marshal Amos Rojas Jr., told the Sun Sentinel.
The Castro regime has allowed American fugitives to stay in the country for decades.
"We will continue to press for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes in our engagement with the Cuban government," the U.S. Department of Justice told ABC News
But the Cuban government hasn't sounded willing to comply.
"Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted," the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press.
"We’ve explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum," Vidal said.
One of the best-known cases involves Joanne Chesimard, who now is known as Assata Shakur. She was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after escaping prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has called Chesimard's continued freedom in Cuba "an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice."
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