New York – The outgoing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has put Cuba back on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
The move reverses an Obama-era decision, and makes it harder for President-elect Joe Biden to fulfill his promise of reviving diplomatic ties with the socialist state, according to reports.
Announcing the designation on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo accused Cuba of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism” by harbouring terrorists.
According to Pompeo, the designation forbids defense exports to the Caribbean country, and forbids persons and countries from engaging in certain trade with Cuba.
The action also restricts U.S. foreign assistance to the country and imposes certain controls on exports of dual use items.
“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.
“For decades, the Cuban government has fed, housed, and provided medical care for murderers, bomb-makers and hijackers, while many Cubans go hungry, homeless, and without basic medicine.
“Members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, traveled to Havana to conduct peace talks with the Colombian government in 2017.
“Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba has refused Colombia’s requests to extradite 10 ELN leaders living in Havana.
“This is 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.
He also accused Cuba of shielding several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.
In addition to the alleged support for international terrorism, the U.S. Secretary of State also accused the Cuban government of engaging in a “range of malign behavior across the region”.
“The Cuban intelligence and security apparatus has infiltrated Venezuela’s security and military forces, assisting Nicholas Maduro to maintain his stranglehold over his people while allowing terrorist organisations to operate.
“The Cuban government’s support for FARC dissidents and the ELN continues beyond Cuba’s borders as well.
“The regime’s support of Maduro has created a permissive environment for international terrorists to live and thrive within Venezuela,” Pompeo added.
With this action, Cuba joins Syria, Iran and North Korea on the U.S. list for allegedly aiding and abetting terrorism.
Cuba entered the list in 1982, but the administration of President Barack Obama removed it in 2015 as he sought to improve economic and diplomatic relations with the country.