by Joan P. Gibbs and Rosemari Mealy
In a series of actions on March 14 and 15, hundreds of activists throughout the United States called on President Biden to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The two days of action will be followed by a mass demonstration at the White House on June 25. Biden can end Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism with the stroke of a pen without any action by the Senate or the House of Representatives.
Biden’s decision flies in the face of the United Nations General Assembly’s repeated rejection of the US embargo for the past 30 years. While campaigning for the presidency, Biden promised to reverse the draconian sanctions imposed on Cuba by Trump. Contrary to his promise, Biden has continued the majority of Trump’s nearly 250 sanctions, including Trump’s designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism during his last days in office. Removing Cuba from the list of terrorist states will not end the devastating commercial, economic and financial restrictions imposed under the over 60-year-old US embargo on Cuba as only Congress has the authority to end the embargo.
Cuba was initially placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism during the Reagan administration in 1982 because of its support for anti-colonial struggles around the world, most notably in Africa. In 2015, former President Obama removed Cuba from the list following a thorough review that concluded that Cuba met the statutory criteria for rescission and a historic meeting with then Cuban President Raul Castro on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. The meeting was the first between the leaders of the two countries in 50 years.
As Cuba’s then Chief Minister of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vital noted in welcoming Obama’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, “The Cuban government recognized the fair decision by the president of the United States to eliminate Cuba from a list it never should been included on, especially considering our country has been the victim of hundreds of acts of terrorism that have cost 3,478 lives and maimed 2,099 citizens.” In a tweet, Obama’s deputy security advisor declared. “Put simply, POTUS is acting to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list because Cuba is not a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
According to the State Department, the Secretary of State before designating a country a “state sponsor of terrorism” must first “determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” Once so designated, a state remains in that category “until the designation is rescinded in accordance with statutory criteria requiring the President to certify either a) that a designated country has not provided any support for acts of international terrorism during the previous six months and has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future, or b) that there has been a fundamental change in the leadership and policies of the designated country, that the country is not supporting acts of international terrorism, and that the country has provided assurances it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” In other words, until the state’s leadership, laws, policies and practices, remnants of the long-discredited Monroe Doctrine, meet the dictates of the United States.
Inclusion on the list of state sponsors of terrorism is accompanied by a wide range of sanctions. Among other things, inclusion on the list will make it harder for Cuba to make international transactions or secure loans for essential food, medicines and infrastructure. In addition, inclusion on the list will also punish people from 40 countries by threatening their eligibility for the visa waiver program.
The Biden administration has sought to justify Cuba’s inclusion on the list of terrorist states because of its refusal to comply with Columbia’s request to expedite several Columbia activists. The current leaders of the government of Columbia, led by Gustavo Petro, the country’s first leftist president, has withdrawn this request. Ironically, the United States has been heavily involved in fomenting disorder and violence in Columbia, especially since the early 1960s when it encouraged the Colombian military to attack leftist activists in rural Columbia. The US was assisted and supported in this effort by multinational corporations such as Chiquita Brands International and mercenaries who contributed to the violence of the conflict.
Notwithstanding the impact of both the US embargo and Cuba’s inclusion on the list of terrorist states, as the National Network on Cuba recently noted: “Cuba still has a longer life expectancy, lower infant and maternal mortality, better health outcomes, higher literacy, more education and less violence than the U.S.” For example, according to a recent CDC report; “In 2020, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.9 times the rate for non-Hispanic white women. Rates for non-Hispanic Black women were significantly higher than rates for non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women.”
For more information about the campaign to remove Cuba from the list of terrorist states and to get involved, contact: https://nnoc.org/ or write: NNOCuba@gmail.com.