With one week of his presidency left (perhaps less if impeachment prevails), the Trump Administration re-added Cuba to the ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ list. This not only reversed a policy by the Obama administration but also could affect President-elect Biden’s relations with the country and ability to revisit an agreement.
The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the person behind the move, said in a statement: “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.”
Thanks to a United States economic embargo on Cuba, doing business with the Caribbean island or visiting is tough. Adding them to this list makes it all the more troublesome.
The label could hurt the countries ability to do commercial business with other third-world countries that Cuba relies on to import essential goods. Even worse, it could deter foreign investors from the tourism industry, which is what many Cubans make their wages off of.
Why is the Trump administration doing this less than a week away from a new president?
Essentially, to create complications for Biden. Senator Patrick J. Leahy from Vermont explained, “this blatantly politicized designation makes a mockery of what had been a credible, objective measure of a foreign government’s active support for terrorism.” He added that, if anything, adding Cuba to the list would pose a greater threat to America than Cuba.
As talks grew around this possible addition to the list of terrorism, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel tweeted about the US administration, noting it was “absurd, hypocritical, and unjust,” noting it “protects groups acting against #Cuba.”
We condemn a unilateral, absurd, hypocritical and unjust maneuver of the US administration to include Cuba in their list of state sponsors of terrorism. This administration protects terrorist groups acting against #Cuba. #LivingCuba https://t.co/pAqKbP6lez
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) December 31, 2020
Some have questioned why people are interested in placing Cuba on the terrorism list ahead of other countries, with some believing it has to do with anti-communist Cuban Americans in Florida.
The Obama administration was able to expand privileges to Americans able to visit Cuba. This prompted a significant influx of Americans to visit Havana (myself being one of them.)
That privilege was cut short with the Trump administration deciding to limit the number of Cubans allowed to visit the U.S. and created barriers on flights and cruises to Cuba. These political decisions were supported by Miami Cuban Americans, Senator Marco Rubio, and former National Security Council senior director Mauricio Claver-Carone.
Additionally, their administration has accused Cuba of backing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, when, in reality, the pandemic has only weakened the relationship between the two countries.
However, Biden plans to bring back the Obama-era diplomatic structures, with the hope to reinstate peace and coherence in the region.