Published: Wed, January 13, 2021

U.S. State Dept. returns Cuba to state sponsor of terrorism list

U.S. State Dept. returns Cuba to state sponsor of terrorism list

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday he was placing Cuba back on a blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, a last-minute roadblock to expected efforts by President-elect Joe Biden to ease tensions.

The terror designation severely hampers investment by foreigners who will now risk USA prosecution and can only be removed after a formal review by the Biden administration, meaning it may be in force for months.

Just nine days before Republican President Donald Trump leaves office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo It was reported that Cuba was placed on the protection list of American fugitives and Colombian rebel leaders.

"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 worldwide terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice", Mr Pompeo said in a statement.

Mr Biden said during the election campaign he would promptly reverse Mr Trump's policies on Cuba that "have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights".

"Cuba returns to the SST list following its broken commitment to stop supporting terrorism as a condition of its removal by the previous administration in 2015", Pompeo said in a statement.

Since Saturday, Pompeo has also designated Yemen's Huthi rebels as a terrorist group, defying warnings from aid groups, and relaxed rules on United States engagement with Taiwan.

Mr Trump has kept up a steady stream of 11th-hour sanctions announcements and other actions against targets, including Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, and Biden aides have said some appear created to tie his hands when he is sworn in next Wednesday. Cuba's security support for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro was also cited by Pompeo as another reason for the blacklist.

"We condemn the USA announced hypocritical and cynical designation of #Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism", Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter.

To justify his decision, he invoked Havana's refusal to extradite ten leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to Colombia after the January 2019 attack, claimed by the group, against the school of cadets from Bogota, who killed 22 people.

"The political opportunism of this act is recognized by everyone who has a genuince concern for the scourge of terrorism and its victims".

According to the statement, the designation would result in sanctions that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba, restricts US foreign assistance, bans defense exports and sales, and imposes certain controls on exports of dual-use items.

'Transactions with the Republic of Cuba would have an increase in scrutiny, resulting in fewer governments and companies wanting to engage with it, ' he said. It is known, without a doubt, that the true motivation for this action is to impose additional obstacles to any prospect of recovery in the bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States.

Only three other countries are now on the USA blacklist - Iran, North Korea and Syria. Sudan was removed in 2020 as part of the Trump administration's peace agreements brokered in the Middle East.

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