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Rutgers Student Shares Thoughts On Recent Visit To Cuba

By Kim Glovas and Cleve Bryan

Philadelphia (CBS) -- President Obama's trip to Cuba is just beginning, but a local college student has just returned and offers his perspective on the island nation.

Gary Kopchisnki Jr. of Marlton is a political science major at Rutgers University-Camden.

He just returned from a week-long educational trip to Cuba, and says it was quite a culture shock because, "they're more lacking in technology, kind of behind, I would say, in terms of technology."

Cuba Kopchinski
Kopchinski in Cuba (Credit: Gary Kopchinski)

Kopchinski says he would highly recommend visiting Cuba, and although Cuba is a socialist country, it is similar to our capitalist cities.

He says old Havana had homes that were grand and opulent, but just miles away in more rural areas, residents were living the poorest of shacks.

While he endorses President Obama's current trip to Cuba and efforts to normalize relations, there are many in the Garden State who are adamantly opposed.

Elected officials and leaders from the law enforcement community say Obama should demand the return of fugitives and terrorism suspects as a condition of improved relations.

"I say it's specifically offensive to all law enforcement officers but especially the NJ State Police because Cuba and the Castro regime not only harbor and protect Joanne Chesimard, but they revere here," say Chief Raymond Hayducka from South Brunswick Police who is a past president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.

Chesimard was convicted for murdering State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.

She escaped prison and fled to Cuba where she's been given a safe haven under the Castro regime.

Hayducka and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col Rick Fuentes say not only does Chesimard need to return to New Jersey but any U-S travelers to Cuba should be cautious of being in the midst of wanted terrorists.

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