Remove Cuba from list of terrorist states

 

As a Cuban American, I think it’s time to remove Cuba from the terrorist list. Most Americans wouldn’t be able to determine what Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan have in common. They are four countries that are on the State Department’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” Not only does this designation affect our relationship with our island neighbor, it also affects our relationship with the Western Hemisphere, and the rest of the world, which does not see Cuba as a terrorist threat.

At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia a year ago, the rest of the Americas made it clear that without a change in our relationship with Cuba, another summit would not happen. If we are sincere about improving our relationship with Cuba, as President Obama has maintained, then we should reexamine our designation of Cuba.

Cuba has been on this list since March 1, 1982. According to a 2005 Congressional Research Services report, at the time of Cuba’s addition to the list “numerous U.S. government reports and statements under the Reagan administration alleged Cuba’s ties to international terrorism and its support for terrorist groups in Latin America.” Any rationale for keeping Cuba on this list has long since disappeared.

By keeping Cuba on this list we are weakening the credibility of the entire list. Cuba has ratified all 12 international counterterrorism conventions, and even offered to sign a bilateral agreement with the United States on counterterrorism. Cuba also collaborates with the United States in counter-drug efforts in the Caribbean, and this cooperation is one that the U.S. government acknowledges and praises. Iraq was removed from the list in 1982 and again in 2004 (after having been reassigned to the list). Libya was removed in 2006. Even North Korea was removed in 2008 (that may have been a mistake).

The presence of Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism symbolizes everything that’s wrong with our approach to Cuba. It’s based on a myth (that Cuban sponsors terrorist groups); it reinforces Cold War-era prejudices (that Cuba is an enemy that we must isolate and oppose); it helps lock our foreign policy in stone. It prevents the United States from taking sensible steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba.

Ismael P. Ortega Iber, Miami

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