Kerry signs order removing Cuba from US list of state sponsors of terrorism

30 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Another important step in reopening Cuba-American relations.

The Obama administration on Friday formally removed Cuba from a U.S. terrorism blacklist as part of the process of normalizing relations between the Cold War foes.The United States dropped Cuba from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism Friday, a significant move toward normalizing ties frozen for half a century.Companies face essentially the same landscape in Cuba as they did when it was listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism, legal experts told Risk & Compliance Journal. President Barack Obama had said on April 14 he would drop the former Cold War rival from the list, initiating a 45-day review period for Congress that expired on Friday.

Cuba — on the list since 1982 — moves from the ranks of nations like Iran, Syria and Sudan, toward a working relationship with its Cold War “yanki” foe that could boost Havana’s ailing economy. 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. The step comes as officials from the two countries continue to hash out details of restoring full diplomatic relations, including opening embassies in Washington and Havana and returning ambassadors to the two countries for the first time since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with the island in January 1961. It ends a prohibition on U.S. economic aid, a ban on U.S. arms exports, controls on “dual-use” items with military and civilian applications, and a requirement that the United States oppose loans to Cuba by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The White House sees better relations with Cuba as correcting an out of date policy and as a likely signature foreign policy achievement of his presidency.

However, experts said, the decision has little effect on companies seeking to do business in Cuba. “For the U.S. business community to get what it wants regarding Cuba, it has to be done legislatively,” said Richard Matheny, a partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, who was referring to the embargo, parts of which date back to the early 1960s. A majority of Americans agree, but the move has been controversial among older Cuban Americans and Republicans who are trying to court their vote ahead of 2016 elections. Miami’s three Cuban-American Republicans in Congress — Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — also slammed the change in statements Friday.

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). U.S. and Cuban officials have said the two sides are close to resolving the final issues but the most recent round of talks ended last Friday with no announcement of an agreement.

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. Obama has already made it easier for 12 categories of Americans to visit the communist island, no longer requiring them to apply for a license before traveling.

Additionally, Castro continues to provide a safe haven to terror groups like the Colombian FARC and Spanish ETA and harbors fugitives from American justice. 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.

The Castro regime’s responsibility in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, the unresolved claims stemming from its illegal confiscation of property from American citizens and businesses, and its continual use of repressive tactics to silence any opposition to the tyrannical regime are further evidence that Cuba should not have been removed from the SSOT. Obama’s announcement, the U.S. has removed dozens of Cubans from its sanctions blacklist and, last week, the Cuban government found a bank — Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Stonegate Bank, that agreed to open an account for it.

Flashpoints included a failed U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles in 1961 and the basing of Soviet missiles on the island, only 90 miles (145 km) south of Florida, that nearly triggered a nuclear war in 1962. Obama, a Democrat, has asked the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the 53-year-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, but the Republican leadership in Congress has resisted calls to remove what has been a pillar of U.S. foreign policy under nine previous presidents.

The Castro regime has harbored U.S. criminals from the FBI’s Terrorist list, illegally shipped weapons to North Korea, and been complicit in the deaths of Americans over international waters. Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush criticized the White House’s removal of Cuba from the terrorism list, accusing it of making concessions without demanding that Havana improve its human rights. “President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them,” Bush said, calling the move “a mistake” and urging congressional pressure on Cuba. This changes everything!’ in response to the removal of Cuba’s [state sponsor of terrorism] designation is either kidding themselves or hasn’t read the laws,” said Mr. He made this ill-advised decision despite the Castro regime’s continuation of its terrorist activities, including illegal weapons smuggling, extensive espionage activities, assistance to terrorist organizations and rogue regimes, harboring fugitives from U.S. justice, including terrorists Joanne Chesimard and William Morales, and even protecting three high-ranking members of its military who have outstanding federal indictments for murdering Americans. This does not come as a surprise, as President Obama has an unfortunate history of appeasing those who are a threat to our country’s national security interests.

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