Trump Administration Puts Cuba Back On List Of State Sponsors Of Terror

Written by Martin Walsh

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion

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President Donald Trump and his administration designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terror on Monday, reversing an Obama-era decision to remove the communist country from the list back in 2015.

The move, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes just nine days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

“With this action, we 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 U.S. justice,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Pompeo said the decision was based in part on Cuba’s refusal to extradite members of a Colombian rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or the ELN. The ELN was in peace talks with the Colombian government but those ended after the group claimed responsibility for the deadly 2019 bombing of a Bogota police academy.

“Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba has refused Colombia’s requests to extradite ten ELN leaders living in Havana after the group claimed responsibility for the January 2019 bombing of a Bogota police academy that killed 22 people and injured more than 87 others,” Pompeo said in announcing Monday’s action. “Cuba also harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.”

President Barack Obama moved to take Cuba off the terror list in 2015 as part of his effort to thaw relations with the island nation.

In a formal notice to Congress in that year, Obama said a State Department review determined that Cuba — which was added to the terrorism list in 1982 — met the requirements for removal.

Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period,” and has offered “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” Obama’s 2015 statement said.

Democrats, of course, are already pushing to reverse this order.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would urge Biden to reverse Trump’s decision.

“For four years, the Trump Administration’s policy towards Cuba has been focused on hurting the Cuban people – from drastically reducing remittances in the middle of a pandemic to limiting the ability of Americans to travel to the island,” Meeks said in a statement. “It is essential that the state sponsor of terrorism list be used judiciously to maintain its seriousness and integrity and that a country is never added to the list unless it meets the legal standard. I urge President-elect Biden to add the reversal of today’s foreign policy failure to his long ‘to do’ list when he takes office.”