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Pompeo returned Cuba to the list of sponsors of terrorism, limiting Biden’s plan

WASHINGTON-On Monday, in its last-minute foreign policy, the U.S. State Department designated Cuba as the national sponsor of terrorism, which will complicate Biden’s new administration’s plan to restore friendly relations with Havana.

In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed Cuba’s reception of 10 Colombian rebel leaders, a small number of American fugitives wanted for crimes in the 1970s, and Cuba’s support for Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro.

Mr. Pompeo said that the operation conveyed the message: “The Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of American justice.”


The New York Times reported last month that Mr. Pompeo was weighing the move and planned to do so at his desk.

The Trump administration’s announcement with only a few days left reversed the steps taken by President Barack Obama in 2015 after resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba, claiming that decades of political and economic isolation were a product of the Cold War. .

After taking office, President Trump took swift action to undermine Obama’s open policy, which pleased Cuban Americans and other Latino voters in Florida. They welcomed his positive stance on Havana and its socialism, anti-American ally, Maduro. . .

Other Republicans cheered for Mr. Trump, saying that Havana had failed to implement political reforms and continued to suppress dissidents, which violated its commitment to the Obama administration.

US officials said that the plan to restore Cuba to the list of sponsors of terrorism was developed by the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs rather than its Counter-Terrorism Bureau. Unlike conventional procedures, the latter usually played a central role in such decisions.

The appointment on Monday stated that according to the State Department’s criteria for adding countries to the list, Cuba has “provided support for international terrorist acts on many occasions,” which includes only three other countries: Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Experts say that this will automatically trigger US sanctions against Cuba-considering the wide range of US sanctions against Havana, expert sanctions may be trivial.

However, this move may constitute a symbolic deterrent effect on companies. “In addition, under many motives, Cuba seeks opportunities to export, import or provide services to Cuba,” said John Carvu, President of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. Rich said.

Mr. Pompeo’s speech cited Cuba’s refusal to extradite 10 leaders of the Colombian National Liberation Army, which has also been designated as a foreign terrorist organization. They have been living in Havana since 2017. These leaders travelled to Havana in 2017 to participate in Cuba-hosted peace negotiations to end a long-term rebellion in Colombia and have not yet returned home.

The National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the bombing of the police school in Bogotá in January 2019, which killed 22 people and injured more than 87 others.

Mr. Pompeo also cited the existence of three fugitives convicted or convicted of murder in Cuba in the early 1970s, including the 73-year-old who was a former member of the Black Liberation Army and is now known as Asata Shakur ( Assata Shakur’s Joanne D. Chesimard (Joanne D. Chesimard), as well as the murder of a New Jersey cavalry in 1973, is still on the FBI’s list of wanted terrorists.

His statement also stated that the Cuban government “performed a series of vicious acts throughout the region” and its intelligence and security services “are helping Nicolás Maduro maintain control of the people while allowing terrorist organizations to operate.” “The Cuban government supports Colombian insurgents crossing the border, and its assistance to Mr. Maduro has helped “provide a relaxed environment for the survival and development of international terrorists in Venezuela.”

During the campaign, President-elect Biden spoke of returning to Obama’s more open Havana, promising to “reverse as soon as possible the trump card policies that have caused the Cuban people and do anything to harm the premature failure of democracy and human rights.”

Although the Biden administration can remove Cuba from the terrorism list, doing so will require a review process that may take months.

Ted A. Henken, associate professor of sociology at Baruch College in New York, said that the Trump administration’s call to Cuba is a “symbolic final gesture” and an attitude toward the Cuban exile community and like-minded Latino voters. A reward. The president’s unexpectedly strong November.

He said: “It is unreasonable based on the merits or facts.” “Cuba is a dictator and systematically deprives its citizens of the basic rights, but it has not yet proven that it is engaged in terrorist activities.”

He added: “The name is politically aimed at domestic audiences in the United States.”

William LeoGrande, a professor of government at the American University in Washington, pointed out that Trump’s numerous sanctions on Cuba mean that the new appointment will have little other impact.

In the past two years, Cuba has been subjected to the most severe sanctions by the United States in the past 50 years, which has resulted in a severe shortage of food rations and basic necessities such as medicines and food. Cuban Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil (Alejandro Gil) said that its economy shrank by 11% last year.

Mr. Rio Grande said that this appointment may hinder legal financial transactions involving U.S. financial institutions, such as U.S. airlines paying landing fees to the Cuban government because banks are increasingly reluctant to conduct such transactions in Washington. More supervision.

Bank transactions through third countries may also be affected. During Trump’s tenure, European banks became increasingly reluctant to issue payments to Cuban state-owned enterprises. The island’s terrorist name may further reduce risk appetite.

Mr. Leo Grande said that the Cuban government will seek to avoid an escalation of the conflict and expects Mr. Biden to work hard to improve relations.

In the streets of Havana, the news caused outrage. “It’s a lie,” said Sergio Herrera, a 45-year-old bicycle taxi driver.

He said: “Trump is at a loss politically and is looking for excuses.”

Washington reported on Michael Crowley, Havana reported on Ed Augustin, and Mexico City reported on Kirk Semple.

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