Yamil Lage / AFP via Getty Images
Updated at 4:25 PM ET
The Trump administration has designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, which will return the island nation to the list of pariahs it removed from five years ago.
While announcing the designation on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Cuba of “repeatedly supporting acts of international terrorism by providing a safe haven for terrorists.”
Pompeo added that the Trump administration intends to “deny the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home and oppose its malignant interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez wrote on Twitter: “We condemn the hypocritical and cynical designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States. The political opportunism of this action is recognized by anyone who sincerely respects the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”
The United States removed Cuba from the state list of sponsors of terrorism in May 2015. The administration of President Barack Obama had reached an agreement to restore relations with Cuba months earlier, including a plan to boost travel and trade between the two countries.
“The world is upside down,” said Cuban diplomat Jose Ramon Cabanas late last week as news of the impending change spread. He noted that the Cuban embassy in Washington was subjected to an armed attack in April, an incident in which a Texas man was arrested on charges of assault and weapons.
Senator Patrick Leahy called the move, saying: “This blatantly politicized name mocks what has been a credible, objective measure of the foreign government’s active support for terrorism.”
“There is nothing so remote here,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement Monday, adding that the move would complicate US-Cuba relations for the Biden administration.
The listing of US terrorists exposes the countries to a range of sanctions, including “restrictions on US foreign aid; a ban on exports and defense sales; certain controls on exports of dual-use items; and various financial and other restrictions,” the United States said. The State Department.
Currently, the State Department identifies only three countries as state sponsors of terrorism: Syria, Iran and North Korea.
In a long-awaited move, the United States formally removed Sudan from the list last month as part of an agreement in which the country agreed to normalize relations and open economic ties with Israel.
The Trump administration has gradually reversed many of the steps Obama has taken to end Cuba’s isolation. In the spring of 2019, it imposed new sanctions and punishments on Cuba in the hope of undermining the communist regime. He also killed a deal that would make it easier for Cuban baseball players to join professional teams in the United States and Canada.
Two months later, the United States imposed new travel restrictions to stop U.S. citizens from visiting the island on cruise ships and other trips.
And in May, it returned Cuba to a list of countries that the United States considers “not fully cooperating” with its efforts to fight terrorism. He cited the country’s refusal to ask Colombia to extradite National Liberation Army leaders, and said Cuba had sheltered “several American fugitives from justice.”