Obama to Take Cuba Off List of ‘Terrorist’ States

That breakthrough, and the president’s attendance at the Summit of the Americas, are building momentum for normalized relations.

The Nation, By Peter Kornbluh, April 10, 2015

Panama — In late November 1981, President Ronald Reagan secretly dispatched Secretary of State Alexander Haig to Mexico to meet with a high-ranking Cuban official and tell him that Cuba’s role in Nicaragua and El Salvador was “unacceptable intervention” and “a threat to our vital interests.” Several months later, the president sent former CIA deputy director Vernon Walters to Havana to reiterate the warning to Fidel Castro: get out of Central America—or else. To reinforce that message, the State Department put Cuba on its designated list of “terrorist states” and, in April 1982, announced a series of economic and financial sanctions to punish the island for “increasing its support for violence in the Hemisphere.”

Thirty-three years after this flagrant effort to obfuscate the difference between supporting revolution and sponsoring international terrorism, President Barack Obama has finally decided to de-list Cuba—creating momentum for positive engagement with Raúl Castro as they both make history by attending at the 7thSummit of the Americas in Panama. This week, the White House received a long-awaited State Department “review” recommending that Cuba be taken off of the list; the president is expected to announce very soon—perhaps tonight—that the list will be reduced from four to three nations (Syria, Sudan, and Iran).

“Cuba’s removal from the list brings US policy back into accord with reality and clears the way for progress on a whole range of other bilateral issues,” according to American University Professor William LeoGrande, who has published a history of the issue on ForeignAffairs.com. Indeed, extracting Cuba from this gallery of rogue states not only redresses a historical insult and injustice; it removes a key obstacle to restoring official diplomatic relations with the Cuban government—a game-changing goal that the Obama administration hopes to significantly advance at the two-day regional meeting in Panama.

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