This week the U.S. State Department published its annual list of state sponsors of terrorism, and once again it includes Cuba despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Cuba, which has been on the list since 1982, was listed alongside Iran, Sudan and Syria as countries that have “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” It is telling, however, that the brief section on Cuba is less than 200 words, while at least three times as much content is devoted to each of the other countries on the list. The report also points out “there was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.”
It’s also notable that while the State Department names two terrorist organizations -- the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) -- as having enjoyed support on the island in the past, it notes that the Cubans have played key roles in facilitating dialogue between both groups and the governments of Colombia and Spain. Both of these countries have expressed gratitude for Cuba’s cooperation.
Critics of U.S. policy towards Cuba have long pointed to its inclusion on the terrorist sponsor list as a sign of an antiquated, Cold War-era approach in Washington. While the U.S. has adamantly refused to remove Cuba from the list, this clashes with the fact that the island has made steady progress in line with U.S.-supported anti-terrorism standards.
In 2012, for instance, Cuba joined the Financial Action Task Force of South America, an international organization which fights money laundering and terrorist financing. This year’s report excludes previous mentions of non-compliance with the task force. As Café Fuerte points out, this appears to be in recognition of an anti-terrorism law passed in late 2013.
And while it is true that a number of individuals wanted in the U.S. continue to enjoy asylum on the island, in recent years the government has turned over several would- be fugitives. In 2006, the State Department even acknowledged that Cuba had provided assurances that it would not accept any more of these, whether or not their crimes were considered “political.”
In response to its designation, the Cuban government has expressed indignation. As Reuters reports, the country’s Foreign Ministry characterized the list as “spurious” and “arbitrary.” Considering all the evidence against its inclusion as a state sponsor of terrorism, it is hard to disagree.
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