Country had been withdrawn in 2015 during Barack Obama’s second term; decision could complicate Joe Biden’s chances of quickly resuming rapprochement with Havana
The government of U.S, still under the chairmanship of Donald Trump, put back Cuba on its list of sponsors of terrorism, from which the country had been withdrawn in 2015 during the second mandate of Barack Obama during the “defrost” process in the bilateral relationship. Nine days before Trump left the White House, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced a decision that could complicate the chances of the president-elect, Joe Biden, quickly resume the approach to Havana. “With this action, we will once again hold the Cuban government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and the subversion of American justice,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The head of American diplomacy justified the Caribbean country’s return to the list “for repeatedly supporting acts of international terrorism, providing safe havens for terrorists”. He argued that “the Trump administration has focused from the beginning on denying the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home and on combating its evil interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.” Pompeo accused the Cuban government of having “fed, housed and provided medical assistance to murderers, bomb makers and kidnappers, while many Cubans are hungry, homeless and without basic medicines”.
Specifically, the Secretary of State cited Havana’s refusal to extradite 10 Colombian guerrilla leaders National Liberation Army (ELN) who traveled to Cuba to participate in negotiations with the government of Colombia. They have been wanted by the South American country’s justice since the organization claimed responsibility for an attack on a police school in Bogotá, which caused 22 deaths and left more than 87 injured. “Cuba is also home to a number of American fugitives sought by the courts or convicted on charges of political violence,” added the Secretary of State, noting that the Caribbean country returned to the list “after breaking its commitment to stop supporting terrorism.”
Cuba apparatus has infiltrated Venezuela, say US
He also accused Cuba of having been involved in “a series of malicious behaviors throughout the region”, noting that its intelligence and security apparatus “has infiltrated the military and security forces of the Venezuela”And helped the president of the South American country, Nicolas Maduro, “To maintain its dominion over its people”, in addition to supporting dissidents from the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which became a political party and officially left guerrilla activities) and the ELN. The inclusion of a country on the terrorist black list implies obstacles to trade and more sanctions, but all of these restrictions already weigh on Cuba due to the American trade and financial embargo.
In this way, today’s measure aims to sanction “people and countries that engage in some type of trade with Cuba, restrict US foreign aid, prohibit defense exports and sales, and impose certain controls on exports of dual-use goods” , at a time of deep economic crisis for Cubans. After his arrival in power, Trump put a brake on the process of normalizing relations with the island, started in 2014 by Obama, of whom Biden was vice president. On November 30, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez denounced an alleged US “maneuver” to return Cuba to the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, which he claimed was intended to “please the Florida anti-Cuban minority ”. In May of last year, the United States took a step in this direction with the inclusion of Cuba in its list of countries that “do not fully cooperate” with the anti-terrorist efforts, which also includes Venezuela, Iran, North Korea and Syria. The Cuban government then responded that its country is a “victim” of terrorism with US complicity, in reference to the various attacks (from hijacking aircraft to plans to assassinate leaders) attributed to anti-Castro groups in the last six decades, mainly during the Cold War .
* With EFE