Lists about States and Terrorism: When the Thief Shouts to the Thief

By José R. Oro on September 18, 2023

Two momentous international events have occurred in September. The Group of 77 + China Summit in Havana and now the UN High Level General Assembly meeting in New York, both of which will increase Cuba’s international visibility and prestige significantly. In the framework of such positive developments, it is imperative to discuss Biden’s re-inclusion of Cuba on the U.S. List of Sponsors of Terrorism.

Donald Trump’s administration added Cuba back to that list in January 2021, after his reelection failure and when he had only a few days left before handing over the White House; reversing one of former President Obama’s most emblematic political measures.

This action was designed to hinder the ability of then President-elect and now President  Biden to negotiate a rapprochement with Havana. “With this action, we will once again hold the government of Cuba accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. Pure fabricated hogwash.

What is the list of state sponsors of terrorism?

“State sponsors of international terrorism” is a qualification applied by the U.S. State Department to countries that the U.S. Administration considers to be collaborators of “terrorist organizations.” Inclusion on the list entails strict sanctions, including extraterritorial sanctions. Basically it is a list of countries that Washington wants to punish for not bowing down to them.

It was created on December 29, 1979 during the administration of Jimmy Carter, in the midst of a bitter confrontation between the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress and also with important leaders of his own Democratic Party (among them Senator Ted Kennedy). It originally included four nations: Libya, Iraq, South Yemen and Syria. Subsequently, in 1982 Cuba was included and Iraq was removed, in 1984 Iran was included and in 1988 the DPRK.

In 1990 Iraq returned to the list after the invasion of Kuwait and South Yemen was removed from the list after reunification with North Yemen. Sudan was added in 1993. Afghanistan, although never officially part of the list, was treated as such until the U.S. invasion in 2001.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was removed from the list the following year in 2004. In 2006 Libya was also removed and in 2008 the DPRK was also taken off the list. In 2015, following improvements in relations between the two countries, the Obama administration removed Cuba from the list, to which it should never have belonged. In 2017 the DPRK returns to the list. In 2020 Sudan leaves and in 2021 Cuba is included again, as the last service of the defeated Trump administration to the Miami mafia.

There are currently four countries members of the vile “list”: Cuba, the DPRK, Iran and Syria.

Patently, this “list” is another illegal weapon in the array of those who wish to perpetuate an unreal unipolar world, willing to annihilate humanity to achieve it, fantasizing that with some miracle, they themselves would escape the hecatomb.

Trump and Mike Pompeo, partners in criminal lies. photo: Slate

The main pretext put forward by the outgoing government of Donald Trump to return Cuba to the “List” was Cuba’s refusal to extradite to Colombia a group of 10 guerrilla leaders of the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN), accused of a car bomb attack at the General Santander Police Cadet School in Bogota in which 21 cadets died. The attack has not been fully clarified.

In addition to suspending peace talks with the ELN being held in Cuba, then Colombian President Iván Duque reactivated arrest warrants for the 10 leaders.

In a statement, the State Department said Cuba, among other countries, was “not cooperating fully” with counterterrorism efforts and cited its refusal to extradite the guerrilla leaders to Colombia.

Cuba’s response to Colombian and U.S. demands has been that the 10 ELN leaders were on the island because of a Colombian request, made under the previous Colombian government, to allow them to live there while peace talks between Colombia and the ELN are underway.

According to protocols between Cuba and Colombia agreed when the talks began (as a continuation of separate talks between Colombia and its other main guerrilla group, the FARC), the guerrilla negotiators would remain free and, if the talks failed or dragged on, would be allowed to return freely to Colombia.

Colombia President Gustavo Petro

Colombia’s own president, Gustavo Petro, stated today that the criminal consequence of Cuba’s entry on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism cannot stand because its basis is nothing but lies. On behalf of his government, Petro called for the removal of Cuba from this spurious classification prepared by the United States.

He explained that as agreed with the government of Juan Manuel Santos, peace negotiators with the National Liberation Army (ELN) could not, as requested by former president Duque. What more is needed to remove Cuba from that list, if the president of Colombia himself asks for it?

“It was not about punishing the ELN,” said a former State Department official. “It was about finding an excuse to punish the Cubans.” Colombia and the United States have said the ELN operates mainly from government-backed safe havens in neighboring Venezuela. But the Trump administration never took steps to name Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism.

When Colombian President Gustavo Petro took office last year, he announced that he would withdraw the extradition request as part of his “total peace” initiative, and peace negotiations are currently making good progress, absolute evidence of the fallaciousness of such a pretext.

The Trump administration at the time also accused Cuba of supporting the government of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, a fully legitimate government, the product of free elections, which Washington has tried to overthrow by all means, including criminal acts.

During the COVID – 19 pandemic, Cuba’s relationship with the Trump administration deteriorated further. Cuba’s exemplary deployment of medical brigades to a number of nations facing medical personnel shortages, including Italy and Andorra in Europe, drew words of praise from the host countries, but harsh condemnation from Washington, which accused the Cubans of “exploiting doctors.” Something really off the wall.

All this, and other falsehoods, such as the now very much silenced lie that Cuba was involved in the “sonic attacks” on U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families, have been refuted.

Yet despite all this, the Biden-Harris administration has preserved Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism, without any justification.

The real causes

The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba already greatly limited the ability of Americans to do business or visit the island, yet it had not fulfilled its function of creating a rebellion against the Cuban government, or forcing it to capitulate to the demands of Washington and Miami. But the new terrorism label hampers trade agreements with third countries on which Cuba depends to import essential goods and discourages foreign investors in its all-important tourism industry, and many other strategically important fields.

The decision was part of a series of last-minute moves by the Trump administration to push hard-line policies championed by influential domestic political constituents, despite the complications they would create for State Department lawyers, humanitarian interests abroad and the then-incoming administration of Joe Biden.

“This blatantly politicized designation makes a mockery of what had been an objective and credible measure of a foreign government’s active support for terrorism,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont). “Nothing remotely like that exists here. In fact, domestic terrorism in the United States poses a far greater threat to Americans than Cuba.”

I don’t think the real causes for reintroducing Cuba to the “list” should be oversimplified. Although it is very important for US neo-fascism to enjoy the support of the Miami mafia, now augmented by groups of Venezuelan origin – and with Argentine, Brazilian, Bolivian, etc. members, politically projected by the three senators, several “Cuban-American” federal representatives; and dozens of mayors, councilmen, assemblymen of Tallahassee, etc., there are also other important factors.

Creating a growing discouragement among the Cuban people is one of them, it is telling the Cuban people that “there is no light at the end of the tunnel”, we will always do something that will hinder a normalization or even an improvement of relations. To dissuade U.S. and third country businessmen, that if they invest in Cuba they will be penalized in the U.S., and to disillusion the growing movement of solidarity with Cuba within the U.S. itself.

Inaction by Joe Biden’s administration, complicity by action and omission

Cuba’s new addition to the terrorism list provoked an immediate, righteous and angry protest in Havana criticizing the move. “We condemn a unilateral, absurd, hypocritical and unjust maneuver by the U.S. administration to include Cuba in its list of state sponsors of terrorism,” tweeted Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Cuba’s inclusion. “This administration protects terrorist groups that act against Cuba.”

Shortly after taking office, Biden administration officials indicated they would review Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken reiterated this point in October 2022 at a press conference with Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who voiced his own objections to the U.S. terrorism designation. Despite these promises, real progress has been nonexistent to date.

Reactionary congress members led by Maria Elvira Salazar introduced the proposed “bill” known as FORCE (H.R. 314) which if passed (far from it at present) would prevent Cuba from being removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List until it meets the requirements of Section 205 of the FREEDOM Act (criminal Helms-Burton Act) (P.L. 104-114) which would mean the surrender of its independence as a nation.

This proposed “bill” narrowly passed (25 – 20) the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but most experts agree that it is unlikely to pass the full House, even though it has a Republican majority. A Senate version of this “bill” was introduced in the last legislative session by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), along with Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), and even if it passes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it has little chance of doing so in the full Senate, with a slight majority of the Democratic Party. Only one Democratic Senator (Bob Menendez) supports it, while several Republican Senators are strongly against it.

Cuba solidarity organizations, and an appreciable number of U.S. politicians who enjoy a reasonable level of sanity and reasonableness, are strongly opposed to this anti-Cuban monstrosity being passed and put into effect.

Moreover, we consider it likely that Cuba will be taken off such a fateful list within the next 12 months: so strong is the rejection it provokes, not only within the U.S. but also throughout Latin America and the world.

The United States has committed 36 large-scale invasions or acts of direct military aggression around the world since 1959 to date and more than 200 major sabotages, coups or acts of mass terror in that period. The inclusion of Cuba on the List of Sponsors of Terrorism is a typical case of a thief shouting “to the thief”.

We witnessed the G-77 and China Summit and now the High Level Segment at the UN, and also at the UN a little more than 30 days later the resolution condemning the blockade will be approved by an overwhelming majority and for the 31st consecutive time.

The absolute lack of reasons for Cuba to be on the Infamous List, makes it likely in my opinion that Biden’s administration will try to appease the national and international clamor and remove Cuba from such an eyesore, for electoral purposes for the general elections of November 2024, in the midst of a group of actions to demonstrate to the voters that they are not “more of the same”, in their electoral confrontation with the openly neo-fascist ultra-right.

Source: Network in Defense of Humanity, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English