July 24, 2015

New calls to return fugitive as US-Cuba relations improve

A screenshot of Charlie Hill in an interview with CNN.

With relations between Cuba and the United States reaching a level not seen for decades, the calls for Cuba to return a fugitive who fled after the killing of a New Mexico State Police officer in the 1970s are growing louder.

A screenshot of Charlie Hill in an interview with CNN.

A screenshot of Charlie Hill in an interview with CNN.

The latest call came from current New Mexico State Police chief Pete Kassetas. Kassetas told the Associated Press that he is cautiously optimistic that the extradition will happen.

Kassetas also joked that he would pay for the ticket himself.

Chief Pete Kassetas said his agency is working with the FBI on the possible return of Charlie Hill to face charges after the U.S. and Cuba restored formal diplomatic relations.

“I’m cautiously optimistic he’ll be extradited back to the U.S.,” Kassetas said. “I hope I have enough money to cover” Hill’s ticket.”

The fugitive is Charlie Hill, who was allegedly involved in the killing of officer Robert Rosenbloom along with two others. The three hijacked an airplane and flew to Cuba, where they were granted asylum by Fidel Castro.

Hill is the only of the four who is still alive.

The three were members of the Republic of New Afrika, a black nationalist separatist group that wanted to break off a portion of the United States to form a black nation.

Relations between the communist island nation south of Florida and the United States are improving to the point where a Cuban embassy recently re-opened in the United States at the same time as a United States embassy re-opened in Havana.

A Republican-led Senate panel also voted to ease travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba.

Over the years, a number of New Mexicans have called on Cuba to return the fugitive to face trial in the United States.

Most recently, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall spoke about Hill ahead of a trip to Cuba. Bill Richardson, then a congressman, traveled to Cuba in 1996 to urge Castro to release Hill. Richardson had also pushed for the release through the 1980s.

Gov. Susana Martinez also penned a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder asking for their hep in aiding the return of Hill.

Earlier this year, Hill told CNN he was considering returning to the United States.

Correction: This story originally stated that there were four in the car when Rosenbloom was killed. There were three, and three fled to Cuba. The story has been updated in multiple spots to correct this. We regret the error.