A congressman wants the extradition of all United States fugitives, including one man wanted for the killing of a New Mexico State Police officer, and he has a very personal reason. Charlie Hill and two others fled after the killing of Officer Robert Rosenbloom during a traffic stop in 1971. The three eventually hijacked a plane and fled to Cuba, where they were welcomed by then-President Fidel Castro. A college student named Jerry McNerney, now a Democratic congressman from California, was on that plane and took an unexpected trip to Florida. He was born in Albuquerque and graduated from the University of New Mexico.
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. 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.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is headed to Cuba to discuss trade and tourism issues. “Opening up relations with Cuba will present new opportunities for trade and tourism for New Mexicans, and I’m proud to continue working to build business and cultural ties between our countries,” Udall said in a statement sent to media on Thursday. “I look forward to engaging in a collaborative dialogue this weekend with Cuban and U.S. officials, Cuban business owners and citizens to explore how we can best develop a 21st century relationship with Cuba that boosts economic growth and brings freedom and openness to Cubans.” It is the latest example of relations between the two nations thawing in recent years. Also taking place during the trip is the Havana Biennial where artists from both countries will participate, including an artist from Taos.
With a thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations, more attention is being paid to a man who hasn’t lived in the United States for more than four decades. That is Charlie Hill, a man who is wanted for the killing of a state police officer and the hijacking of a plane that was flown to Cuba. Hill and two others were granted asylum by the Cuban government. Of the three, Hill is the only remaining survivor. Hill and two others were part of a black separatist group called the Republic of New Afrika that sought to break off a portion of the United States as its own country.