EDISON - On the 43rd anniversary of a New Jersey state trooper’s death, the first U.S. cruise ship in nearly 40 years has docked in Havana, Cuba.
New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster was shot and killed on May 2, 1973 while conducting a traffic stop in New Brunswick. Joanne Chesimard and several others were charged and convicted in the murder. Chesimard eventually escaped from prison and made her way to Cuba. She has been a fugitive there ever since.
Trooper Foerster was 34 years old when he was killed. He was married and had a 3-year-old son.
State police officials, New Jersey lawmakers and even U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez have expressed strong views about demanding Chesimard’s return before the United States continued relations with Cuba.
The state police posted several items on social media about the situation Monday as Carnival Cruise’s Adonia made its way to Havana.
“As a cruise ship full of tourists arrives in Cuba, we would just like to remind everyone that Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted of the murder of Trooper Werner Forester, still roams Cuba as a free woman,” police posted on Facebook.
Some officials believe that the Adonia's arrival is the first step toward a future in which thousands of ships a year could cross the Florida Straits, long closed to most U.S.-Cuba traffic.
The 704-passenger cruise ship was the first U.S. ship in Havana since a brief window in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter allowed virtually all U.S. travel to Cuba.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.