U.S. puts Cuba back on ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ list

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The USA State Department has designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a statement, noting Cuba’s harboring of US fugitives as well as its support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. Cuba was removed from the list in 2015 by then-president Barack Obama as he moved to normalize relations with the country.

The State Department of the USA can place four categories to enlist any country as sanctioned:

  • Restrictions on foreign assistance by the USA.
  • A ban on defence exports and sales.
  • Certain controls over exports of dual use items.
  • Sanctions can also be placed on countries and persons that engage in certain trade with designated countries.

Pompeo said that Cuba was being blacklisted again for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism” as well as harboring US fugitives and Colombian rebel leaders.

What does this mean for Cuba?

  • The terror designation has major consequences for Havana and everyday Cubans.
  • Foreign investors will now risk US prosecution for transactions in Cuba.
  • The reinstated sanctions also include major restrictions barring most travel between the US and Cuba.
  • The sanctions also curb money transfers between the two countries, hitting hard the incomes of Cubans who have relatives in the US.
  • Only three other countries are currently on the “state sponsor of terrorism” list, including: North Korea, Syria and Iran.

What concern does USA have with the Castro regime?

  • Illegitimate interference in internal politics of Venezuela.
  • Oppressing the people of Cuba.
  • Supporting international terrorism.
  • Subversion of the USA justice.

How were relations during Trump regime?

  • Trump’s clampdown on Cuba
  • Since taking office in 2017, Trump has taken a hardline stance on Communist-led Cuba.
  • He reversed many of the policies of the Obama administration, moving to tighten restrictions on US travel and remittances.
  • The Trump administration also imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil shipments to Cuba.
  • Trump’s Cuba policy was popular among Cuban-Americans in Florida, contributing to his electoral win in the state — although he ultimately lost the November election to Biden.

The United States and Cuba have had a strained relationship for more than sixty years, rooted in Fidel Castro’s overthrow of a USA-backed government in 1959. Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro took several steps to normalize bilateral relations, including restoring diplomatic ties and expanding travel and trade. The Trump administration has reversed aspects of the past agreements by reimposing restrictions on tourism and other commerce.

Resuming Washington’s blockade against Cuba appears to be the most unjust, prolonged system of unilateral sanctions applied against any country. There is an urgent need to improve the relationship between the two countries through bilateral talks. As a large population of Cuban immigrants and people with Cuban roots reside in the USA, it is for the sake of democracy and spirit of internationalism that the two countries make efforts towards reconciliation.