Florida’s Senators Back Mike Pompeo Putting Cuba Back on State Sponsor of Terrorism List

Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott-cheered this week’s announcement that the U.S. State Department is listing Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

U.S. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement this week as the Trump administration manages through its final days.

“Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act,” the State Department defines State Sponsors of Terrorism. “Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.”

“The State Department has designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists,” Pompeo said. “The Trump administration has been focused from the start on 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.

“With this action, we will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice,” Pompeo added. “For decades, the Cuban government has fed, housed, and provided medical care for murderers, bombmakers, and hijackers, while many Cubans go hungry, homeless, and without basic medicine.  Members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, traveled to Havana to conduct peace talks with the Colombian government in 2017.  Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba has refused Colombia’s requests to extradite ten ELN leaders living in Havana after the group claimed responsibility for the January 2019 bombing of a Bogota police academy that killed 22 people and injured more than 87 others.

“Cuba also harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.  For example, the Cuban regime has refused to return Joanne Chesimard, on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List for executing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973; Ishmael LaBeet, convicted of killing eight people in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1972; Charles Lee Hill, charged with killing New Mexico state policeman Robert Rosenbloom in 1971; and others,” he continued. “Cuba returns to the SST list following its broken commitment to stop supporting terrorism as a condition of its removal by the previous administration in 2015.  On May 13, 2020, the State Department notified Congress that it had certified Cuba under Section 40A(a) of the Arms Export Control Act as “not cooperating fully” with U.S. counterterrorism efforts in 2019.

“In addition to the support for international terrorism that is the basis for today’s action, the Cuban regime engages in a range of malign behavior across the region.  The Cuban intelligence and security apparatus has infiltrated Venezuela’s security and military forces, assisting Nicholas Maduro to maintain his stranglehold over his people while allowing terrorist organizations to operate.  The Cuban government’s support for FARC dissidents and the ELN continues beyond Cuba’s borders as well, and the regime’s support of Maduro has created a permissive environment for international terrorists to live and thrive within Venezuela,” Pompeo added.

“Today’s designation subjects Cuba to sanctions that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba, restricts U.S. foreign assistance, bans defense exports and sales, and imposes certain controls on exports of dual use items,” he said in conclusion. “The United States will continue to support the Cuban people in their desire for a democratic government and respect for human rights, including freedom of religion, expression, and association.  Until these rights and freedoms are respected, we will continue to hold the regime accountable.”

Back in April 2015, Rubio, who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ripped then President Barack Obama’s decision to remove the Cuban regime from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and cheered Pompeo’s actions this week.

“For far too long we have seen the cozying up of the Castro regime, now ruling under its puppet Miguel Díaz-Canel, with designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations such as the dissident elements of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and members of the National Liberation Army (ELN). It’s no secret that Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel are providing a safe haven to terrorists and are actively propping up malign actors in our region. Today’s reversal is long overdue and one for which I long have called. The incoming Biden Administration should follow this policy and continue to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its destabilizing activities in our Hemisphere,” said Rubio who leads the U.S. Senate Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues Subcommittee.

Scott also backed Pompeo’s actions.

“For years, I’ve called for Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism to be reinstated, and I’m glad the administration heeded those calls today. The Obama-Biden administration’s appeasement policies toward Cuba allowed Havana to extend its reach and expand its control, giving power to other ruthless dictatorships in Latin America. Today, Cuba continues to oppress its people and those across Latin America by supporting narco-states run by dictators like Maduro and Ortega, while harboring terrorist groups. Reinstating Cuba’s rightful designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism signals to the global community that the U.S. will not tolerate rouge nations that oppress their people. It’s a great day in the fight for freedom and democracy in Latin America,” Scott said.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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