Leaders of the exile community and Cuban organizations in the United States welcomed this Monday the return of Cuba to the list of countries considered by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism, although some questioned why Venezuela was not included as well.
“The State Department has designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism for repeatedly supporting acts of international terrorism by providing safe haven for terrorists,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a statement released today.
The Trump Administration, which took office in 2017, takes the action less than two weeks before Democrat Joe Biden takes office and six years after then-President Barack Obama removed Cuba from the list in 2015 as part of his policy of normalizing relations with the island.
It is a rectification of the “mistake of 2015,” the Center for a Free Cuba said today.
The reasons for Cuba to be on the list “remain, and in fact have expanded since the original designation in 1982,” said its president, former Undersecretary of State and former ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich.
Juan Antonio Blanco, executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, said it is “naïve” to believe that the Trump Administration got the island “on this list with one stroke of the pen” and “simplistic” to think that by doing so it wants to leave “the minefield” on Cuban affairs to the new administration.
This process took “years of research,” he added
“I was one of those who made investigations in that field and we reached the conclusion that Cuba had applied a subcontracting methodology by which all criminal and illegal activities by its groups has been exported to Venezuela,” he said in a statement EFE.
Rosa María Payá, head of the Cuba Decide movement, applauded the fact and said that communications with the congressmen and with President-elect Biden will continue, “who now has one more mechanism to put pressure on the dictatorship to support the demands for democratic change that arise from the Cuban citizenry.”
Orlando Gutiérrez, leader of the Cuban Democratic Directorate, described that it as the “right move.”
“The (Cuban) regime continues to be linked to terrorist practices, personalities and organizations. It must be treated as such,” Gutiérrez told EFE.
Asked about what might happen with this decision when Biden becomes president, Gutiérrez said that to change it, “an extensive process” is needed, adding that “this dictatorial regime in Cuba” should be required to meet “strict and real requirements to get out of that classification.
“I believe that this regime has been given time and space to change its behavior and it is not doing so,” he added.
Meanwhile, Antonio Díaz Sánchez, of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), told EFE that Cuba “should never have left” the list.
The Cuban state is “terrorist by nature with their own citizens” and continues to support terror in other nations, Díaz Sánchez added.
Ramón Saúl Sánchez, head of the Democracy Movement also agreed and said that the only way for Cuba to get off the list of state sponsors of terrorism is “to stop terrorizing its people and sponsoring terrorist regimes such as those of Venezuela and Iran, and giving shelter to terrorists.
John S. Kavulich, head of the U.S.-Cuba Economic and Trade Council, wondered why the Trump Administration believes that Cuba deserves to be put back on the list, while it does not see similar behavior in Venezuela to include it.
“The Trump Administration has successfully linked Cuba to Venezuela and Venezuela to malignant activities,” this specialist in US-Cuba relations points out.
Cuba and Venezuela are linked with China, Iran, Russia, Syria and North Korea and with Colombian guerrillas, he adds.
Kavulich believes that the decision announced on Monday by Pompeo will have an impact on the limited political, economic and commercial relations between both countries and can also affect the relations of the United States with third countries.
As for the concrete consequences of this decision for Cuba, he said that “financial institutions may have another reason to avoid transactions” with the island and may also dissuade governments and companies from linking up with that country.
It may also cause insurance companies to suspend coverage for transactions (ships, planes, etc.) or increase the cost of policies.
“With this action, we will once again hold the Cuban government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support of international terrorism and subversion of US Justice,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The head of U.S. diplomacy justified the island’s return to the list, accusing it of “repeatedly supporting acts of international terrorism by providing safe haven to terrorists.”