Photo: Cuban Flag
Numerous Cuban-American legislators, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, want Cuba kept on the U.S. terror list in spite of the island nation not having sponsored recent acts of terrorism.
Beside Rubio, Reps Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Joe Garcia, Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and (D-FL) Albio Sires (D-NJ) are drafting a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to insist Cuba still meets the critieria to be labeled a sponsor of terrorism. In addition Cuban Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have voiced support for keeping Cuba on the list.
Cuba is on the terror list along with Iran, Syria and Sudan and has been since 1982. Unlike those other nations Cuba, does not have nuclear weapons, is not using chemical weapons or engaged in genocide. Nonetheless, these high profile Cuban-American legislators feel Cuba fits the terror -sponsor criteria established in 1979.
Cuban detractors point out the country has been under the same leadership for decades and maintains similar repressive policies that it did when Fidel Castro took power over 50 years ago. In order for a country to be delisted a change in power and policies must be seen and most importantly not participate in acts of international terrorism in the past six months while providing assurances it won’t in the future, according to The Hill.
Kerry will have to weigh the legislators appeal as well as the fact that Cuba has expanded the scope for self-employment and eased rules for small business creation over the last several years. In addition, Cubans are now able to obtain passports to leave the country. The last country to be removed from the terror list was North Korea in 2008.
The State Department annually reviews each country on the list to see who should be removed. Last year the State Department under Hillary Clinton kept Cuba on the list while acknowledging it found no evidence of Cuba sponsoring or training terrorists.