In an effort to improve relations with Cuba, President Obama has announced on Tuesday he will take off the country’s name from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. The decision came after the leaders of the two countries met at a regional summit in Panama.
Added to the terrorism list in 1982, a State Department review concluded that Cuba met the requirements for the removal, Obama said in a formal notice to Congress.
He told lawmakers that Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period,” and has offered “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”
According to The Huffington Post, Josh Earnest, White House spokesman, said in a statement, “We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria that is relevant to whether to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
The Congress has 45 days to assess Obama’s decision before it is implemented.
Cuba was enlisted as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982 – for its support and allegiance to Marxist revolutionary movements – during the Cold War.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said, “Our hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago,” as reported by The Washington Post.
However, Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the list was met with reproach.
Marco Rubio, R-Fla, a 2016 presidential candidate, said that Cuba was sheltering U.S. fugitives.
Obama’s decision “sends a chilling message to our enemies aboard that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name,” Rubio said, as reported by USA Today.
John Boehner (R-Ohio), also expressed his criticism about taking Cuba’s name off of the list.
“I am disappointed that the White House seems determined to reward the Castro regime, which has a clear record of repression at home and exporting violence throughout the region. Not even a week has passed since the brutal attacks on Cuban democracy protestors in Panama City during the Summit for the Americas,” he said.
“Those attacks – and the Castros’ long history of human rights violations — demonstrate the folly of revisiting diplomatic relations with this communist dictatorship and removing it from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror.”
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