The Donald Trump administration’s decision to put Cuba back on a list of countries considered state sponsors of terrorism has drawn the ire of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which denounced the “unilateral declaration” by the outgoing administration and said it was unjustified.
The Trump administration made the announcement on Monday, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that the re-designation was warranted because Cuba has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists, including several American fugitives.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, CARICOM contended that “Cuba’s international conduct does not in any way warrant that designation”.
“This further attack on the country adversely affects its international standing and its social, human and economic development and is another misguided action in addition to the unproductive, unnecessary and illegal financial and economic embargo already imposed on this Caribbean nation by the United States,” it said.
“CARICOM calls for the immediate review and reversal of these unjustified actions taken in regard to Cuba and looks forward to the United States moving towards normalizing relations with Cuba.”
The US action subjects Cuba to sanctions that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba, restricts U.S. foreign assistance, and bans defense exports and sales.
According to Pompeo’s statement, the Trump administration has been focused from the start on “denying the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home, and countering its malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere”.
He said by designating it a state sponsor of terrorism, the US 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.”
The Trump administration’s action rescinds a 2015 move by the previous Barrack Obama administration to thaw ties with Cuba, and also complicates the incoming Joe Biden administration’s efforts at diplomacy with the Spanish-speaking nation.
But Pompeo said Cuba’s return to the list follows its broken commitment to stop supporting terrorism as a condition of its removal by the previous administration in 2015.
“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 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,” he said.
“Cuba also harbours 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 support for international terrorism that is the basis for today’s action, the Cuban regime engages 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 organizations to operate,” the US Secretary of State added.