U.S. removes Cuba from list of countries not cooperating fully against terrorism

May 15, 2024
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WASHINGTON/HAVANA — The U.S. removed Cuba from a short list of countries the United States alleges are “not cooperating fully” in its fight against terrorism, a State Department official said on Wednesday.

The official cited the resumption of law enforcement cooperation between Cuba and the U.S. as one the reasons why the previous designation was deemed “no longer appropriate.”

“The department determined that the circumstances for Cuba’s certification as a ‘not fully cooperating country’ have changed from 2022 to 2023,” the official said.

The decision marks a tepid if symbolically important move on behalf of the Biden administration, which until now has largely maintained Trump-era restrictions on the Communist-run island.

The cooperation against terrorism list, which the State Department is required by law to provide the U.S. Congress, is not the same as the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, according to the department official.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump separately designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism just prior to leaving office, a jab that Cuba maintains has contributed to a severe economic crisis on the island, and to shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

“This move by the Biden Administration could well be a prelude to the State Department reviewing Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism,” William LeoGrande, a professor at Washington’s American University, told Reuters.

The State Department official said the state sponsor designation is determined by separate statutory criteria.

“Any future review of Cuba’s status would be based on the law and criteria established by Congress,” the official said.

Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez applauded Wednesday’s decision by the Biden administration but said it did not go far enough.

“The US has just admitted what is known to everyone: that #Cuba collaborates fully with efforts against terrorism,” Rodriguez posted on X.

“All political manipulation of the issue should cease and our arbitrary and unjust inclusion on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism should end,” he added.

North Korea, Iran, Syria and Venezuela remain listed as not cooperating fully with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the official said.

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