The American administration announced this Monday that it was going to put Cuba back on the list of states that support terrorism.
The decision, made just over a week from the end of Donald Trump’s term in the White House, could make life difficult for the Biden administration if it wants to revive relations with the Cuban regime, as it began to happen during Barack Obama’s term. .
According to the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, Cuba has been blacklisted for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism”, giving refuge to fugitives from the United States and Colombian rebel leaders.
Pompeo also cited Cuba’s support, at the security level, for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who will have been instrumental in maintaining power and creating “a permissive environment for international terrorists to live and prosper in Venezuela.
“With this measure, we will once again hold the Cuban government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end support for international terrorism and the subversion of American justice,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The Secretary of State specifically referred to the fact that Cuba welcomed fugitive Joanne Chesimard, who managed to get to Cuba after escaping from prison, where he was serving a sentence for killing a policeman in New Jersey in 1973. He also referred to the refusal to Cuba to extradite those responsible for an attack on the police academy in Bogotá, Colombia.
The decision to put Cuba back on the list reverses Barack Obama’s 2015 measure to remove the country from the same list, starting to thaw relations, which would include the restoration of diplomatic relations, that same year.
Decision addressed to Cuba and Biden
According to a source close to the decision, cited by Reuters, the Trump Administration’s decision took several months of legal review and will require equally lengthy deliberations by the Biden administration to be reversed.
Since his election in 2017, Trump has cooled off relations with Cuba, tightening restrictions on travel and the sending of money from the United States to Havana and imposing sanctions on fuel shipments from Venezuela to the island.
Trump’s hard-line Cuba policy was popular among the large Cuban-American population in South Florida, helping him win the state in November though he lost the election to Biden, who was Obama’s vice president.
The Republican President’s measures helped him gain popularity with the Cuban community based in Florida. Biden, meanwhile, said during the campaign that he would reverse any Trump policies that had “harmed the Cuban people by doing nothing to advance democracy and human rights” in the territory.
Cuba had already reacted preventively through a tweet published on December 30, when it was already speculated about this measure. At the time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Havana published a message on Twitter denouncing the “maneuvers of Secretary of State Pompeo to include Cuba in the list of states that support terrorism just to please the anti-Cuban minority in Florida”
The team that is preparing the transition from Trump to Biden says they are taking note of this and other measures that appear to be designed only to hinder the work of the next President.
The inclusion in the list of states that support terrorism has serious consequences, but in this particular case these are more symbolic than practical, since many of the restrictive measures are already underway. However, they will be more difficult to reverse for Biden.
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