Washington, Jan 12 (IANS) The US has added Cuba to the list of “State Sponsor of Terrorism”, a move to constrain the incoming Joe Biden administration’s efforts to improve relations with Havana.
In a statement on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Cuba was designated for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists”, Xinhua news agency reported.
The statement cited that Cuba harboured several US fugitives from justice and supported
According to the statement, the designation would result in sanctions that penalise persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba; restricts US foreign assistance; ban defence exports and sales; and impose certain controls on exports of dual-use items.
In addition to Cuba, the State Department currently lists Syria, Iran and North Korea as state sponsors of terrorism.
The action by the outgoing administration of Donald Trump has immediately drawn condemnation from Cuba and US Democrats.
“We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism. The US political opportunism is recognised by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy blasted the move as a “blatantly politicised designation”.
“In fact, domestic terrorism in the United States poses a far greater threat to Americans than Cuba does.
“Secretary Pompeo has self-righteously defended Donald Trump’s worst foreign policy failures, and on his way out the door he seems intent on making things as difficult as possible for his successor,” he said in a statement.
President-elect Joe Biden previously slammed Trump’s policies on Cuba, saying he would “try to reverse the failed Trump policies that inflicted harm on Cubans and their families”.
In October, Biden had said that the US needed a new Cuba policy, though it remained unclear how quickly Biden would implement his policy on the island.
Cuba had been placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1982.
In March 2016, Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to visit Cuba since 1928 following the warming of bilateral relations that began in December 2014, ending a 54-year stretch of hostility.
But tensions between Cuba and the US worsened after Trump took office in 2014.
The Trump administration has increased the trade embargo, first imposed in 1962, which has banned American flights to Cuban cities except Havana; barred cruise ships and yachts from visiting the island; and limited remittances Cuban-Americans send to their families on the island.
Washington has also re-instated Cuba into a list of countries that “do not fully cooperate with the US counter-terrorism efforts”.
The decision prohibits the sale or license for the export of defence articles and services to the nations contained in the blacklist.