National Security

Biden renews Trump determination Cuba ‘not cooperating’ on antiterrorism efforts

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The Biden administration on Tuesday renewed the Trump administration’s determination that Cuba is “not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts,” reaffirming a controversial decision made in the last 10 days of the Trump administration.

The notice, dated May 14 and released publicly on Tuesday, maintains the list drafted under the Trump administration, which included Cuba alongside Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. 

Cuba’s foreign minister on Tuesday expressed frustration with the Communist country’s continued presence on the list under the Biden administration, calling it “surprising and irritating.”

Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, in Tuesday tweet condemned the continued designation of Cuba on “the list of non-cooperative countries in the fight against terrorism.” 

“This slanderous action as well as continued enforcement of Trump’s policy and his 243 blockade measures are both surprising and irritating,” he added.

In a later tweet, Rodriguez wrote, “President Biden’s administration, turning its back on the overwhelming majority of US and Cuban people, enforces Trump’s measures,” arguing there was a “growing gap between words and reality.” 

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The determination was made under the Arms Export Control Act, one of the laws the U.S. weighs when adding countries to the state sponsors of terrorism list.

The decision comes after the White House previously said it would review the Trump administration decision.

“A Cuba policy shift is not currently among President Biden’s top priorities,’’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing in March.

“But we are committed to making human rights a core pillar of our U.S. policy, and we’re committed to carefully reviewing policy decisions made in the prior administration, including the decision to designate Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added Cuba to the state sponsors of terrorism list, arguing it would help with “denying the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home, and countering its malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

But critics widely panned the move as a trumped-up claim designed to complicate Biden’s path forward with Cuba.

Biden while on the campaign trail vowed to reverse some of Trump’s hard-line policies toward Cuba, which he argued had “inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.”

But the administration has thus far done little to spell out its policy toward Cuba or signaled a desire to return to the Obama approach, when relations between the two nations began to thaw.

The designation includes “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports … and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,” according to the State Department.

Trump’s addition of Cuba to the state sponsors of terrorism list followed his 2020 victory in Florida, fueled in part by high levels of support from Cuban Americans in the state. 

According to a March study by management and consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi International, 66 percent of Cuban American voters in the Sunshine State indicated they were opposed to reengagement with Cuba under the Biden administration.

Tags biden administration Cuba Cuba policy Florida Jen Psaki Joe Biden Mike Pompeo State Department state sponsor of terrorism Trump Administration
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