The United States accused Cuba on Wednesday of “not fully cooperating” in the fight against terrorism with Washington, a step that reinforces its legal basis to re-designate the island as a state sponsor of terrorism and that represents a new provocation amid the tension bilateral.
The State Department announced that it has included Cuba in its list of countries that “do not fully cooperate” with the United States, due in part to its “refusal to extradite to Colombia ten members” of the Colombian guerrilla Liberation Army Nacional (ELN), according to the official statement.
Cuba appears for the first time since 2015 in that list, which also includes Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea, and from which the island emerged during the thaw process orchestrated by former US President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raúl Castro.
THE JUSTIFICATION: THE REFUGE TO ELN MEMBERS
The State Department’s justification for taking the measure has to do with the presence in Cuba of members of the ELN, who traveled there in 2017 to start peace negotiations now stalled with the Colombian Government.
The Executive of the Colombian President, Iván Duque, has repeatedly asked Cuba for the extradition of the leader of the peace negotiating team and top leader of the ELN, Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias “Pablo Beltrán”, who remains on the island, accused by Colombian justice aggravated kidnapping.
“Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba rejected Colombia’s request to extradite ten ELN leaders living in Havana after the group claimed responsibility for the 2019 attack on a police academy in Bogotá, which killed 22 people and injured more than 60, “said the State Department.
That “demonstrates” that Cuba does not cooperate with the United States, according to the statement, because Washington “maintains a lasting security alliance with Colombia and shares with them the important anti-terrorism objective of fighting organizations like the ELN.”
The State Department also noted that Cuba “gives refuge to several fugitives from the (US) Justice required on charges of political violence,” and cited Joanne Chesimard as an example, who is on the list of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists for murdering a state agent in New Jersey in 1973.
ONE STEP PRIOR TO THE BLACK LIST
In practice, the measure adopted today is only a preliminary step to include Cuba in the list of states that sponsor terrorism, according to the president emeritus of the center for Inter-American Dialogue studies, Peter Hakim, and the professor at the American University and author from a book on the thawing process, William Leo Large.
“Designating Cuba as a state that‘ does not cooperate ’is a preliminary step to return it to the list of countries that support international terrorism,” something that depends on the personal decision of Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, argued Leogrande.
In theory, the decision taken by the State Department also implies that Cuba cannot import any type of weapons from the US; But in reality, this type of trade is already prohibited as part of the embargo that the United States has maintained for sixty years on the island and that has been tightened under the Donald Trump government.
In LeoGrande’s opinion, “there are no practical consequences for Cuba” due to today’s appointment, although it does serve to “poison” bilateral relations even more.
Nor would the island suffer much impact if the U.S. He decides to designate it as a sponsor of terrorism, a name that would have merely symbolic value, he recently explained to Efe to a former official of the National Security Council of the White House, Fernando Cutz.
Putting a country on the terrorism blacklist implies trade obstacles and more sanctions, but all those restrictions already weigh on Cuba due to the blockade.
USA “TANTEA” ”TO THE EUROPEAN UNION
The European Union (EU) has been critical of Trump’s policy towards Cuba, which has harmed some of its members, such as Spain, with commercial interests on the island; And because of those alliances, Washington has not yet dared to take the step to designate the country as a terrorist, according to Hakim.
“It is a way to test international waters and see if the eventual designation of Cuba as a terrorist would provoke a great reaction,” Hakim explained.
In addition, the measure is part of a sharp escalation of tensions between the United States. and Cuba, which the White House accuses of keeping Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in power, and arrives in the middle of the electoral campaign in the US, with Trump interested in showing off his strong hand with the island to retain the state Florida key.
Cuba’s reaction was not long in coming, and the director for the United States of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Carlos Fernández de Cossío, wrote on Twitter that the island “is a victim of terrorism,” referring to the recent attack on the Cuban embassy in Washington and He stated that there is “a long history of terrorist acts committed by the US government against Cuba.”
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