First Draft | Jeb Bush Assails Obama on Removing Cuba From Terror List

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Another important step in reopening Cuba-American relations.

The Obama administration announced this afternoon that it had removed Cuba from the list of terrorism-sponsoring nations, another step toward normalization between the United States and its small Caribbean neighbor. “Neither continued repression at home nor Cuba’s destabilizing activities abroad appear sufficient to stop President Obama from making further concessions to the Communist regime in Havana. For 33 years, Cuba has occupied a spot on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism — a place reserved for nations that repeatedly provide support for international acts of premeditated, politically motivated violence against non-combatants. It was placed on the list during the Cold War, an era when there was still a Soviet Union and Cuba was accused of supporting and arming leftist insurgencies in Latin America and Africa. Chris Christie is blasting the Obama administration’s decision to remove Cuba from a U.S. terrorism blacklist when the nation is still harboring one of his state’s most-wanted criminals. Iran’s leaders are surely taking note.” Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both of Cuban-American heritage, have been even more critical of the thawing in relations, with Cruz calling it a tragedy and Rubio describing it as ridiculous.

Obama paid a surprise visit on Thursday to a Miami religious shrine popular with Cuban exiles to “honor the sacrifices that Cuban-Americans have made in their pursuit of liberty and opportunity, as well as their extraordinary contributions to our country,” a White House spokeswoman said. The visit had special significance, recognizing the instrumental role of the Catholic church and Pope Francis’s successful intervention in improving ties between Havana and Washington. By all accounts, Cuban support for anything that might accurately be described as terrorism ended at least a quarter-century ago. (The U.S. side of the terrorism ledger isn’t exactly clean either). With no attempt by Congress to override his recommendation in the 45-day period, the president’s directive now takes effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register. “We are just two days away,” Sen.

Tom Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, told reporters in Havana on Wednesday during a visit to the island. “There has not been a vote in the Congress so that’s going to stand. I think it will be a matter of weeks when we have restored diplomatic relations.” At the conclusion of the fourth round of normalization talks in Washington last Friday, the two sides said they were very close to reaching agreement on renewing diplomatic ties and opening embassies.

But progress has been made, and we certainly have diplomatic relations — in some cases close diplomatic and economic relations — with countries with a much worse and much more recent record. Cuba hasn’t been sponsoring left-wing guerrilla movements for a long time,” said Richard Feinberg, a professor of international political economy at the University of California, San Diego and a National Security Council director during the Clinton administration.

As his December announcement made clear his primary interest was in pushing a political narrative about the Castros’ actions, instead of one rooted in reality,” said South Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “In his rush to cut a ribbon on a new embassy in name only, his administration has left unresolved many crucial issues such as U.S. citizens and businesses that have certified claims against the Cuban regime for illegally confiscated properties, fugitives from American justice who have been granted refuge by the Castro regime, and the regime’s abysmal human rights record,” said Ros-Lehtinen. Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro announced last December that the two countries were working toward a rapprochement after more than a half-century of hostility. Under Obama’s new Cuba policy, U.S. banks are now allowed to establish correspondent accounts at Cuban financial institutions and to support expanded trade and travel with Cuba authorized under the new policy.

So far it appears that no U.S. bank has tried to establish a correspondent relationship with a Cuban bank or supports the use of its credit or debit cards on the island. Behind the scenes, Schwartz said banks are making Cuba plans and preparing to serve customers who might want to do business with the island — but in the context of when the embargo is lifted. “When it happens, they will be ready,” he said, “but it’s going to be customer-driven. “ It’s also important to point out that we haven’t seen anything from the Cuban side yet,” Schwartz said. “We haven’t seen them change their regulations, infrastructure or processes” in response to the trade and financial opening outlined by Obama. Taking Cuba off the list, said Feinberg, “removes one more constraint from the U.S. side, making it even more apparent that the ball is now in Cuba’s court.” As Obama was visiting Florida on Thursday, Gov. The president should take time to reconsider this dangerous decision while in South Florida today.” Republicans had considered mounting a challenge to Cuba’s removal from the terrorism list, but in late April, after meeting with her colleagues, Ros-Lehtinen said they had decided against introducing a bill to fight it and instead would concentrate on other Cuba legislation related to human rights and national security.

With a challenge no longer looming, “people began to analyze their business opportunities in Cuba more seriously,’’ said Andy Fernández, who heads Holland & Knight’s Cuba Action Team/Financial Services. “Now one of the first barricades has been lifted. But David Levine, an international trade attorney in the Washington office of McDermott Will & Emory, said as more U.S. professional, business and academic groups head to Cuba “to scope things out” and start to see opportunities, “it will help push politicians toward what needs to be done to normalize the relationship.”

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