US returns Cuba to ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ list

havana

The US Department of State once again designated Cuba as a state that sponsors terrorism on Jan. 11. In 2015, the Obama administration removed Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, which currently includes North Korea, Iran and Syria. In a press statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department accused Cuba of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists,” and stated that by adding Cuba back to the list, the US “will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of US justice.”

The misdeeds alleged by Pompeo’s statement include harboring fugitives from the US, including Joanne Chesimard [Assata Shakur], Ishmael LaBeet [Ishmail Muslim Ali] and Charles Lee Hill, as well as allegations of Cuban “malign interference” in Venezuela and failure to cooperate with US counterterrorism efforts under Section 40A(a) of the Arms Export Control Act.

Pompeo’s statement comes amid rising tensions between the US and Cuba, and the State Department’s highly critical 2019 Human Rights Report. President Donald Trump increased sanctions against Cuba in September. Multiple commercial sanctions were implemented by the Department of the Treasury and Department of Commerce in 2019.

The designation by the State Department subjects Cuba to additional sanctions that penalize countries and individuals that engage in certain types of trade with Cuba, limits US foreign aid to Cuba, and bans defense exports to Cuba.

From Jurist, Jan. 12. Used with permission.

Note: Ironically, Pompeo’s accusation of “granting safe harbor to terrorists” is a reference to Havana’s hosting of peace delegations from Colombian guerilla groups in their efforts to broker an accord with Bogotá over the past six years.

It should also be noted that while Raúl Castro remains leader of the ruling Communist Party, he was succeeded as Cuba’s president in 2018 by Miguel Díaz-Canel.

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