Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: US Puts Cuba Back on ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ List)

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Topic: US Puts Cuba Back on ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ List

US Puts Cuba Back on ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ List

Why in News?

  • Recently, the US State Department put Cuba back on a blacklist designating it a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
  • Cuba was removed from the list in 2015 by then-president Barack Obama as he moved to normalize relations with the country.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a statement, noting Cuba’s harbouring of US fugitives as well as its support for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Major Impact on Cuba

  • The terror designation has major consequences for Havana and everyday Cubans.
  • Foreign investors will now risk US prosecution for transactions in Cuba.
  • The reinstated sanctions also include major restrictions barring most travel between the US and Cuba.
  • The sanctions also curb money transfers between the two countries, hitting hard the incomes of Cubans who have relatives in the US.
  • Only three other countries are currently on the “state sponsor of terrorism” list, including: North Korea, Syria and Iran.

Actions Taken during Trump’s Administration

  • Since taking office in 2017, Trump has taken a hard-line stance on Communist-led Cuba.
  • He reversed many of the policies of the Obama administration, moving to tighten restrictions on US travel and remittances.
  • The Trump administration also imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil shipments to Cuba.
  • Trump’s Cuba policy was popular among Cuban-Americans in Florida, contributing to his electoral win in the state — although he ultimately lost the November election to Biden.

Reasons Cited by US for Sanctions

  • Cuba returns to the list following its "broken commitment" to stop supporting terrorism as a condition of its removal by the previous administration in 2015.
  • On May 13, 2020, the State Department notified Congress that it had certified Cuba under Section 40A(a) of the Arms Export Control Act as "not cooperating fully" with US counterterrorism efforts in 2019.
  • Cuba also harbours several US fugitives from justice wanted on or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.
  • The Cuban intelligence and security apparatus has infiltrated Venezuela's security and military forces, assisting Nicholas Maduro to maintain his stranglehold over his people while allowing terrorist organizations to operate.
  • The Cuban government's support for FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) dissidents and the ELN (National Liberation Army - Colombia) continues beyond Cuba's borders as well, and the regime's support of Maduro has created a permissive environment for international terrorists to live and thrive within Venezuela.

Future Actions

  • In order to take Cuba off the list again, incoming President Biden’s administration will have to carry out a formal review.
  • Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken would have to call for the review and it would need to be proven that the Cuban government did not engage in terrorism within the past six months.
  • The process takes time, meaning Cuba could remain on the list for months.
  • Biden has said he would reverse many of Trump’s policies on Cuba upon entering office.