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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Returns Cuba to List of State Sponsors of Terrorism

By VOA News January 11, 2021

The Trump administration redesignated Cuba as a "state sponsor of terrorism" Monday, just nine days before U.S. President Donald Trump leaves office.

The move places new sanctions on Cuba shortly before President-elect Joe Biden takes office and could complicate any efforts by the incoming Biden administration to revive Obama-era detente with Havana.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the designation Monday, citing Cuba's continued harboring of U.S. fugitives, its refusal to extradite Colombian rebels, as well as its support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro. Cuba has a long-standing alliance with Maduro, and the two countries cooperate on trade and travel.

The designation reimposes major restrictions on Cuba, including barring most travel between Cuba and the United States, as well as the transfer of money between the two countries.

"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," Pompeo said in a statement Monday.

Trump has clamped down on Cuba since coming to power in 2017, working to reverse former President Barack Obama's efforts at rapprochement. Obama formally removed Cuba from the terrorism list in 2015, a step toward restoring diplomatic ties with Havana that same year.

Since Trump came to power, he has steadily increased restrictions on flights, trade and financial transactions between Washington and Havana.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez condemned Monday's action, writing on Twitter that it is hypocritical and a "cynical designation of Cuba."

"The U.S. political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims," he said.

Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that he was outraged by Trump's designation.

"For four years, the Trump administration's policy towards Cuba has been focused on hurting the Cuban people," he said, adding that Trump "has always seen Cuba as a political football with zero regard for the long-suffering Cuban people."

He urged Biden to reverse the designation when he takes office.

"It is essential that the State Sponsor of Terrorism list be used judiciously to maintain its seriousness and integrity," Meeks said.

Cuba has repeatedly refused to turn over U.S. fugitives that have been granted asylum, including Joanne Chesimard, who fled a New Jersey prison following her conviction for killing a New Jersey state trooper in the 1970s.

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