Trump administration names Cuba sponsor of terrorism

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Pompeo said the State Department gave Cuba the designation “for repeatedly supporting acts of international terrorism by granting protection to terrorists,” accusing the nation of reneging on commitments made when President Barack Obama called them. removed from the list of states supporting terrorism. in 2015.

A senior Cuban official responded by saying that the United States was hypocritical.

The Trump administration’s move comes days before the inauguration of Biden, who pledged to revive Obama’s efforts to bring the two enemies of the Cold War closer together.

Cuba joins just three other countries on the list of states that support terrorism – Iran, North Korea and Syria. Sudan was recently removed from office as part of its agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

Pompeo said that “(f) or decades, the Cuban government has fed, housed and provided medical care to murderers, bombers and air pirates, while many Cubans are hungry, homeless and without basic medications. »
“Cuba is also home to several American fugitives from justice wanted or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades,” he said.

The administration has provided no evidence that Cuba sponsored terrorist attacks. The rationale for adding Cuba to the list contains recurring claims that Cuba is home to radicals from the 1970s, most of whom are now elderly, and ignores the fact that Cuban played a pivotal role in ending the civil war in Colombia; something the Obama administration applauded the Communist-run island for.

The designation is the culmination of Trump’s tough stance on Cuba – a stance that was welcomed by Cuban Americans and other Florida voters, but that sabotaged Obama’s efforts to break out of 20th-century tensions between the two countries.

This decision places restrictions on US foreign aid, a ban on exports and defense sales and establishes certain export controls and various financial restrictions. It may also result in sanctions against any person or country engaging in certain business activities with Cuba.

Move criticized by diplomats

Cuba was removed from the list of sponsoring states for terrorism in 2015 amid Obama’s efforts to restore ties between Washington and Havana. The Reagan administration designated Cuba in 1982, accusing the Castro government of sponsoring communist groups in Latin America and Africa.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla tweeted on Monday: “We condemn the hypocritical and cynical designation of Cuba as a sponsor state for terrorism, announced by the United States. The political expediency of this action is recognized by all who are sincerely concerned about the scourge. terrorism and its victims. ”

An experienced US diplomat on Cuba issues told CNN last month that “there just wasn’t a good argument to be made that Cuba had in fact sponsored terrorism” when plans to make the switch were first reported. “I don’t know anything about what has changed since then in real terms – they’re just reinterpreting things to suit the policy. ”

Although the designation would likely be revoked by the new Biden administration, the diplomat said it could damage “our credibility on state sponsorship of terrorism.”

William LeoGrande, Latin America expert and professor at the American University, said that by entering the White House, Biden could quickly start the process of removing Cuba from the terrorist list again and that the designation would have little impact. practical impact because Cuba is already submitted. large-scale US financial sanctions.

“Almost all of the sanctions a country suffers from being on the terrorism list are already imposed on Cuba as part of the larger embargo,” he said.

“The only real difference is that being on the terrorism list makes a state vulnerable to prosecution by individuals for the consequences of so-called acts of terrorism. You lose sovereign immunity if you are on the terrorism list. ”

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