Wednesday, April 15, 2015

US President Obama to Remove Cuba as State Sponsor of Terrorism

News reports indicate that U.S. President Barack Obama sent a message to the U.S. Congress yesterday that he intends to remove Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Once that happens, the U.S. and Cuba will be able to resume normal diplomatic relations, although it will not be an end to the economic sanctions the U.S. maintains against Cuba.  Thus, the main result of the move will be to allow the re-opening of the U.S. and Cuban embassies.  States that are designated as sponsors of terrorism are also barred from trade with the U.S. in arms and other militarily sensitive technology as well as receipt of certain financial aid from the U.S., but those activities may still be prohibited for Cuba under separate legislation.

Congress will have 45 days to consider the President's action before it takes effect. If Congress wishes to block the President, it must pass separate legislation to do, something that the White House predicts to be unlikely.

The U.S. first designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982 when it was actively sponsoring Marxist revolutionaries in Latin America.  President Obama's action follows a review by the U.S. State Department, which confirmed that Cuba has satisfied the criteria for removal from the terrorist list.  President Obama emphasized that the U.S. still has disagreements with Cuban policy, but that those disagreements do not relate to the terrorism designation.  

Josefina Vidal, Director of U.S. relations at Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations, welcomed Cuba's removal from the list and affirmed that Cuba rejects and condemns all acts of terrorism.

There are only three other countries that remain on the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list - Iran, North Korea and Syria.  For more information about the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list, see the U.S. State Dept. website.


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