Posts Tagged ‘state sponsors of terrorism’

The Punishment of Cuba

November 21, 2014


The USA as Judge, Jury and Executioner
The Punishment of Cuba

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel
2014 188-2 US, Israel

This year Washington’s policy may be subject to even more criticism than usual due to the widespread recognition of Cuba’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

Speaking before the General Assembly before last year’s vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.

However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:

The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.

So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest in 2011-12 ; that many of them were physically abused by the police; and that their encampments were violently destroyed.

Does Mr. Godard have access to any news media? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person.

As to “independent journalism” – What would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?

The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba has not changed since the revolution in 1959 – The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as many Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted its suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.
Judging and Punishing the Rest of the World

In addition to Cuba, Washington currently is imposing economic and other sanctions against Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, China, North Korea, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Mexico, South Sudan, Sudan, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, India, and Zimbabwe. These are sanctions mainly against governments, but also against some private enterprises; there are also many other sanctions against individuals not included here.

Imbued with a sense of America’s moral superiority and “exceptionalism”, each year the State Department judges the world, issuing reports evaluating the behavior of all other nations, often accompanied by sanctions of one kind or another. There are different reports rating how each lesser nation has performed in the previous year in areas such as religious freedom, human rights, the war on drugs, trafficking in persons, and sponsors of terrorism. The criteria used in these reports are often political. Cuba, for example, is always listed as a sponsor of terrorism whereas anti-Castro exile groups in Florida, which have committed literally hundreds of terrorist acts over the years, are not listed as terrorist groups or supporters of such.

Cuba, which has been on the sponsor-of-terrorism list longer (since 1982) than any other country, is one of the most glaring anomalies. The most recent State Department report on this matter, in 2012, states that there is “no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.” There are, however, some retirees of Spain’s Basque terrorist group ETA (which appears on the verge of disbanding) in Cuba, but the report notes that the Cuban government evidently is trying to distance itself from them by denying them services such as travel documents. Some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been allowed into Cuba, but that was because Cuba was hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government, which the report notes.

The US sanctions mechanism is so effective and formidable that it strikes fear (of huge fines) into the hearts of banks and other private-sector organizations that might otherwise consider dealing with a listed state.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy.

We will keep knocking at the necessary doors

October 8, 2014


“16 years of imprisonment have passed during which our friends have expressed their maximum commitment to Cuba, and put their professional and family life second to this constant struggle, Alicia and Bill form part of this selfless friendship”, Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) said on awarding the Friendship Medal of the Republic of Cuba to Alicia Jrapko, coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five in the United States and her husband, Bill Hackwell, photographer and member of the organization.

During the ceremony, relatives of the three antiterrorists still incarcerated in U.S. prisons, read messages sent by Antonio, Ramon and Gerardo to mark the occasion in honor of their brother and sister, as they called them.

Gerardo wrote that it was not easy to summarize the work of two lives completely dedicated to this most noble cause in such a brief note, or to express with mere words what being able to count on brothers and sisters such as these has meant to the Five.

Alicia Jrapko stated that this long struggle has only been able to maintain itself for so long because it is supported by a government and a people who are respected and admired by people of goodwill across the world.

“Cuba is solidarity instead of selfishness, love in place of hate. That’s why wherever we are we defend the cause of the Five, the result of this wonderful work. We will continue to host all the conferences and to knock on all the necessary doors,” Jrapko explained.

Bill Hackwell declared that the medal, more than an honor, demonstrates that the wave of solidarity which has marked his way of life will be victorious.

René and Fernando González, Decorated Heroes of the Republic of Cuba; Ana Teresita González Fraga, vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Josefina Vidal, director for the United States department at the foreign ministry; Graciela Ramírez, coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and relatives of the Five Heroes, all attended the ceremony.

Cuban Who Fought Terrorism Urges Freedom for his Fellow Fighters

April 16, 2014

??????????(Fernado at the left)

Fernando Gonzalez, the Cuban who fought terrorist plots hatched from the United States against his country, made an urgent call here for the immediate liberation of his fellow fighters still held prisoner in the United States, a punishment he said was meant as vengeance for Cuba’s revolutionary process.
“From the very beginning of this process we were conscious that we were being made to pay for being revolutionary Cubans,” said Gonzalez, in reference to the case that has become known internationally as the case of the Cuban Five.

Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, and Antonio Guerrero were the five Cubans put on trial in Miami in 2001. The latter three remain incarcerated, while Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez (no relation) are back in Cuba after having completed long sentences.

“We were punished for having worked on behalf of the Cuban people, on behalf of the Cuban revolution, and even for working for the U.S. people, since we thwarted terrorist actions that might have harmed them,” said Gonzalez, in an interview posted at the Cubadebate website.

Regarding his return to Cuba, Gonzalez said he felt free “and not just as a result of having been released from prison. I have the freedom that I was denied in the United States. Here I have the freedom to do what I want, including political freedom.”

He said that in the United States, there is no freedom of thought, because there are so many mechanisms to control and manipulate people’s consciences.

“After they chained me at the hands, waist and feet, they took me out of the Safford (Arizona – federal) prison. Presumably I was free, but there and then, at the door, I was re-arrested by immigration authorities.”

He recalled that he was taken to Phoenix in a highly reinforced convoy, and later to Miami. The operation lasted some 36 hours.

“I was always handcuffed, and in the middle of this huge security operation that was a surprise to me. I was even handcuffed in the plane that brought me to Cuba, albeit with plastic cuffs, which were cut when the plane opened its door at Havana’s Jose Marti airport. Only then did I feel free,” he said.

Gonzalez said he was grateful for the international support for the Five and urged a continuation of the struggle to free Gerardo (condemned to two life sentences plus 15 years), Ramon (30 years) and Antonio (21 years and 10 months. “Our friends in solidarity throughout the world must continue pushing for the three to be released and returned to Cuba as soon as possible,” he stressed.


Cuba and the US terror lists by Helen Yaffe

June 14, 2013

! cuba-terrorismo

Since 1959, nearly 3,500 Cubans have been killed and 2,100 permanently maimed as a result of terrorism launched from the United States by groups with links to the US government. Not a single US citizen has been injured or killed by terrorism linked to revolutionary Cuba. The only Cuban terrorists are counter-revolutionaries recruited by the CIA. Most infamous among them is Luis Posada Carriles, who lives freely in Miami. President Obama has excelled in the US practice of state terror: through its occupying armies, support for dictators, rendition flights, torture of prisoners, forced feeding of hunger strikers in Guantanamo prison camp, drone-strike assassinations around the world and repression of internal dissent. Yet in the topsy turvy world of imperialism, the US labels socialist Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism and points to black revolutionary Assata Shakur to prove it. HELEN YAFFE reports.

The US began its list of ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ in 1979, adding Cuba in 1982, because, it said: ‘Havana openly advocates armed revolution as the only means for leftist forces to gain power in Latin America, and the Cubans have played an important role in facilitating the movement of men and weapons into the region.’ More recently, the US conceded that ‘the government of Cuba maintained a public stance against terrorism and terrorist financing’, but complained that revolutionaries from other armed struggles, in Colombia (FARC), the Basque Country (ETA) and the US (Assata Shakur), reside in Cuba. Basque ETA members are in Cuba through an agreement with the Spanish and Panamanian governments and Cuba is currently hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government. An increasing vociferous international campaign demands that Cuba be removed from the US list. However, on 1 May 2013, the US announced that Cuba would remain on the list of terror states. On 2 May, the FBI added Assata Shakur to another US list – ‘most wanted terrorists’. Since ‘Cuba refuses to support real terrorists, the FBI … has taken it upon itself to invent one!’ (Dawn Gable,, 4 May 2013).

Assata Shakur – freedom fighter*

Assata Shakur is a black woman from the US; a fugitive from US injustice. She was a political activist in the 1960s and 1970s in community organisations, student and anti-war movements and then joined the Black Panther Party, helping to run free breakfast programmes for poor black children. In 1969, the then director of the FBI, J Edgar Hoover, stated: ‘The Black Panther Party, without question, represents the greatest threat to the internal security of the country’. He set out to destroy it, under a relentless FBI ‘counter-intelligence’ programme, COINTELPRO, to neutralise organisations challenging US racism and imperialism; using infiltration, misinformation, division, criminalisation and assassination. Following persecution, Assata went underground as a member of the Black Liberation Army. Assata was engaged in a liberation struggle against a racist, oppressive state which had declared war on radical activists. In one of her rare interviews, in Havana 1996, Assata told FRFI ( ‘In 1973 I was captured. I was shot, once with my hands in the air and once in the back. I was left to die. They kept coming back and saying ‘Is she dead yet? Is she dead yet?’ I was finally taken to hospital and kept for four days incommunicado, questioned, interrogated and tortured, even though I was paralysed.’ She was framed for the murder of the New Jersey State Trooper who was shot in the incident. The forensic evidence shows Assata was innocent.

Initially cleared in court of numerous false charges designed to criminalise her, Assata was finally sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the state trooper. She escaped from prison in 1979 and arrived in Cuba in 1984. She explained: ‘I have admired Cuba since I was at college. I read everything about Cuba that I could get my hands on. So, when I escaped from prison, my first idea was Cuba…and, luckily, people here knew who I was and they gave me the status of a political refugee’ (FRFI 131). In 2005, with no new evidence or a retrial, the FBI recategorised Assata from criminal to domestic terrorist. It did so under the guise of the 2001 Patriot Act, which saw an unprecedented and sweeping expansion of state powers to spy, search, restrict free speech, arrest, incarcerate, interrogate, punish, deport, and withhold information. A $1 million reward was offered for her capture.

On 2 May 2013, the 40th anniversary of her capture, Assata was added to the top ten ‘most wanted terrorists’, a list created after 11 September 2001. She is the first woman and the only person of African descent on this list. The FBI’s website warns: ‘She may wear her hair in a variety of styles and dress in African tribal clothing.’ The bounty on her head has been doubled to $2 million; an invitation to any vigilante to capture her, dead or alive. It is from this list that the US picks targets for its extra-judicial assassinations overseas via drones and raids.

Although it is well known that Assata resides in Cuba, billboards have been erected in New Jersey State with Assata’s face and the words ‘WANTED: TERRORIST’. Less than three weeks after the Boston marathon bombings, ‘the FBI felt compelled to frame the domestic terrorism conversation around a black revolutionary living in Cuba, instead of two white men from Boston’ (Kirsten West Savali, At a news conference on 2 May an FBI agent claimed Assata ‘is a supreme terror [sic] against the government who continues to give speeches espousing revolution and terrorism’. No evidence was or could be provided. Assata does not advocate terrorism. Fellow black activist Angela Davis said ‘certainly, Assata continues to advocate radical transformation of this country, as many of us do…That is why it seems to me that the attack on her reflects the logic of [the war on] terrorism, because it is precisely designed to frighten young people who are involved in the kind of activism that might lead to change.’ As examples she cites today’s struggles around ‘police violence, health care, education [and] people in prison’.

Cubans combating terrorism

The utter hypocrisy of the US’s ‘war on terrorism’ is exemplified in the case of the Cuban Five. In the 1990s more than 200 attacks of terrorism and sabotage against Cuba were launched from Miami. To defend Cuba from further attacks, five Cuban men risked their lives to infiltrate right-wing extremist exile groups in Miami, groups with well documented links to the US government. The Cuban Five had no guns or explosives. They were not after classified information or threatening US national security. In fact, in 1998, Cuba handed the FBI a mountain of evidence compiled by the Cuban agents from the terrorist networks. That information made it possible to prevent 170 attacks against Cuba, including a plan to blow up aeroplanes filled with Cuba-bound tourists from Europe and Canada. Instead of acting on the information to destroy the terrorist networks, the US authorities arrested, framed and incarcerated the Cuban agents. Their subsequent treatment, including many months of isolation and denial of family and legal visits, has constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

In October 2011, after 13 years of incarceration, one of the Five, Rene Gonzalez, was granted a three year ‘supervised release’ under life-threatening conditions: forced to remain in Miami in close proximity to the terrorists he had exposed. The conditions also prohibited Rene ‘from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, organized crime figures are known to be or frequent.’ In other words, the court could identify where terrorists and criminals hang out in Miami, but rather than arrest and try them, it warned Rene not to disturb them. So much for the war on terrorism!

Among Miami’s terrorist population is Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, a self-confessed terrorist and ex-CIA operative, involved over decades in terrorist activities throughout the Americas. Posada’s bloody record includes the mid-air bombing of a Cuban civilian aeroplane in 1976, killing all 73 people aboard, bombing hotels and restaurants in Havana in 1997 and attempting to assassinate Fidel Castro at the University of Panama in 2000. Carriles does not appear on the list of ‘most wanted terrorists’ and has merely been charged, and then acquitted, of lying during an immigration hearing.

Finally, on 3 May 2013, a US judge granted Rene Gonzalez the right to serve the remainder of his supervised release in Cuba. This is a victory for the international campaign to free the Cuban Five anti-terrorists, the other four of whom remain incarcerated.

* See Assata: an Autobiography, Assata Shakur, Lawrence Hill Books, 2001.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 233 June/July 2013,

The Terrorist List, and Terrorism as Practiced Against Cuba

April 23, 2013


BY Keith Bolender

Of all the components to the United States hostile strategy against Cuba, nothing raises the ire of the Castro government more than its inclusion on the State Department’s list of states that sponsor terrorism. The designation is seen by Havana as an impediment towards improving relations and as a cruel hypocrisy that provides political cover for Washington to justify the imposition of economic penalties along with the perpetuation of anti-revolutionary propaganda.

There is an opportunity to eliminate that stumbling block in the next few weeks, if newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry decides to recommend Cuba’s deletion from the list to President Obama. Kerry has until the release of the State Department’s annual terror report on April 30 to make the determination of whether Cuba will remain on the terrorist list. High ranking Cuban officials are closely watching this development, indicating the removal could offer an opportunity to re-engage with the United States. [1]

The history of Cuba’s controversial inclusion goes back to 1982, the same year Iraq was taken off the list by the Reagan administration. Besides Cuba, only Sudan, Iran, and Syria continue to be labeled as state sponsors of terrorism. North Korea was dropped in 2008, while Pakistan, long the home of Osama Bin Laden and recognized as a haven for Islamic terrorists, has never been considered. Saudi Arabia, where the majority of the 9/11 terrorists came from, is looked upon as a staunch ally of the United States.

There are numerous reasons why the Castro government finds its insertion on the list so galling. First are the real economic consequences to the designation. By law the United States must oppose any loans to Cuba by the World Bank or other international lending institutions. Obama administration officials have been using Cuba’s inclusion to make it increasingly difficult for Havana to conduct normal banking transactions that involve U.S. financial establishments, regardless of which currency is being used. Furthermore, the United States has imposed an arms embargo against all parties placed on the list (which the Castro government has experienced since the triumph of the Revolution) as well as prohibiting sales of items that could be considered to have both military and non-military dual use, including hospital equipment. For example, the William Soler children’s hospital in Havana was labeled a ‘denied hospital’ in 2007 by the State Department, bringing with it serious ramifications. Various medicines and technology have become impossible to obtain, resulting in the deaths of children and the inability of staff to properly deal with a variety of treatable conditions. [2] For Cuba, these restrictions are additionally damaging as the island continues to suffer from the comprehensive embargo the United States has imposed since the early 1960s.

On an emotional level, Havana has long drawn attention to the double standard that permits Washington to label others as a terrorist state, all the while ignoring its own culpability in the multiple acts of terror that have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Cuban civilians. This relatively unreported history stretches back to the early months following Castro’s victory over the Batista regime, when the United States was determined to eliminate the Cuban revolution not only through economic and political means, but with violence. Operation Mongoose, a program developed by the State Department under the overarching Cuba Project, coordinated terrorist operations from the period following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 to the October missile crisis 18 months later. During this time State Department officials provided logistical and material support to violent anti-revolutionary groups carrying out terrorist activities on the island. The terrors included torturing and murdering students who were teaching farmers to read and write, blowing up shoppers at Havana’s busiest department stores, bombing sugar cane plantations and tobacco fields, killing Cuban fishermen and the innumerable attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and other top government officials. [3] Historian Arthur Schlesinger reported in his biography of Robert Kennedy that Operation Mongoose was formulated under the Kennedy administration to bring “the terrors of the earth” to the Cuban people. [4] It has been called one of the worst cases of state sponsored terrorism of the 20th century. [5] When Operation Mongoose ended, violent anti-Castro groups based in South Florida, such as Alpha 66 and Omega 7, took over operations, often with the tacit approval and knowledge of local and federal authorities. In 1971, the village of Boca De Samá on the northeast coast of Cuba was attacked, leaving two civilians dead and a dozen more injured. Alpha 66 continues to claim credit for this act of terrorism on their website. [6] A series of biological agents were purportedly introduced into Cuba in the 1970s, harming a number of plants and animals. These biological attacks included an outbreak of swine fever that killed a half-million pigs. Perhaps the worst case was the1981 epidemic of Dengue 2, totally unheard of in Cuba prior to this period. More than 300,000 people were affected within a six-month period. An estimated 102 children died as a result of the disease. Cuban-American Eduardo Arocena, former member of Omega 7, testified in 1984 that he travelled to Cuba in 1980 to “introduce some germs” into the country to “start the chemical war,” —as reported by The New York Times. [7] One of them was Dengue 2.

Havana and Varadero tourist facilities were targeted during a 1997 bombing campaign, resulting in the death of Italian-Canadian businessman Fabio di Celmo when a bomb exploded in the lobby of the Hotel Copacabana. Dozens were injured before the explosions ended with the arrests of a group of Salvadorians who later testified they were being paid to plant the bombs. Claiming responsibility for the campaign was Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban-American long known for his violent actions against the Castro regime. He bragged to a The New York Times reporter that the intent of the bombings was to discourage tourists from visiting the island just as Cuba was opening up the industry following the collapse of the Soviet Union. [8]

In addition to the tourist attacks, former CIA agent, Posada Carriles, is infamously known for his alleged masterminding of the bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 in October 1976, killing all 73 on board. The incident remains the second worst act of air terrorism in the Americas, exceeded only by the attacks on 9/11. Evidence points to the involvement of Posada Carriles and fellow Cuban Orlando Bosch with organizing the crime, based on extensive U.S. documentation. [9] Bosch passed away in his Florida residence a few years ago, while Posada Carriles continues to live unfettered in Miami, despite requests for his extradition from the Cuban and Venezuelan governments. Cuba’s demands for Posada Carriles to be brought to justice in part rest on former President George Bush Jr.’s own statement in 2003, “Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and equally guilty of terrorist crimes.” [10] The Cuban government was motivated by such acts of terrorism to send intelligence officers to Florida to infiltrate violent anti-revolutionary organizations. The effort led to the arrest and conviction of five Cuban nationals in 1998 on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. Known as the Cuban Five, the release of these agents, who were attempting to prevent further terrorist attacks on their country, continues to be a high priority with Havana and adds another layer of complexity to rapprochement between the two countries. Those close to the Cuban Five episode have always been troubled by the probity of the whole affair and whether the entire trial was fixed by U.S. legal authorities as well as intelligence officials.

Since 1982, an assortment of rationales has been posited to retain the island’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, mostly based on expedient political considerations. Initially, it was the country’s support for revolutionary communist organizations in the third world. When Castro himself renounced backing for insurgents after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, nothing changed. Two long-standing justifications rest on Cuba’s permission to allow alleged Basque ETA terrorists to take up residence on the island in the 1980s, and the harbouring of fugitives from American justice. What remains unsaid is the agreement between the then-Spanish government of Felipe Gonzalez and Cuba to accept members of the separatist ETA Homeland and Freedom organization. [11] Of the fugitives facing charges in the United States, some have lived in Cuba since the 1970s. While an extradition treaty between Cuba and the United States that was signed in 1904 has never been abrogated, the treaty is considered non-operative and requests are handled on a case by case basis. Despite this informal status, the Cuban side declared in 2005 that safe haven would no longer be provided to American fugitives. Cuba continues to be interested in re-establishing the formal status of the extradition agreement as a means to secure the return of Posada Carriles and others it considers terrorists residing in the United States.

Another pretext for maintaining Cuba on the list is that some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group have been living in Cuba. This argument was considerably weakened last year when peace talks began in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC. Undoubtedly, the most tenuous rationalization followed the terrorist attacks on 9/11 when the United States claimed Cuba was not sufficiently supportive of its war on terror, declaring the Castro government had undertaken little effort to track or seize terrorist assets. A 2004 State Department report asserted that “Cuba continued to actively oppose the U.S.-led coalition prosecuting the global war on terrorism.” [12] This reasoning has long been undermined by Fidel Castro’s condemnation of the 2001 attack, pointing to his own country’s experiences in his call to bolster efforts to eradicate all forms of terrorism.

Currently, an unrelated matter has been used to justify non-engagement and for Cuba’s retention on the U.S. list of terrorist nations. American citizen Alan Gross was jailed three years ago in Cuba for bringing in illegal telecommunication equipment under a program financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)–a government organization supportive of regime change on the island. Obama officials have repeatedly stated no improvement in relations can be achieved with Gross in jail. Conversely, the Cuban side indicated there might be an opening in the case if Havana were taken off the list. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from Maryland, traveled to Havana recently, returning with expressions of hope for an improved relationship with Cuba under the condition that, “the first step needs to be resolving Alan Gross’s situation.” [13]

There is no sound argument for Cuba’s continued description as a state sponsor of terrorism. Secretary of State Kerry has in his hands a method to end the moral duplicity and possibly help kick start engagement. Kerry, an outspoken critic of what he has called “the failed Cuban policy,” publicly stated his support for the end of travel restrictions and the elimination of the funding for the type of programs in which Gross was involved. [14] He now has the opportunity to put rhetoric into reality, to demonstrate to Cuba and the rest of Latin America that United States policy regarding their contentious neighbor to the south is moving into a new, more mature and constructive period.

More importantly, Kerry should recommend removal from the list, because it is the morally right thing to do. Terrorism is a serious, dangerous blight on modern society—it should not be used for purely political motivations. Both countries have suffered from the scourge, but only one continues to be punished unjustly by an arbitrary and mendacious designation, which is custom-tailored to serve the political requirements of the hard-right Cuban-American community in Miami. Cuba’s inclusion on the list of terrorist states is an outdated rhetorical invention sustained by a decades long antagonism between two opposing ideologies, which all along has impeded efforts to move towards an improvement in relations. It is time for Cuba to be taken off the list.

Keith Bolender is a Guest Scholar at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a freelance journalist, and the author of “Cuba Under Siege: American Policy, the Revolution and its People” (Palgrave 2012).

Please accept this article as a free contribution from COHA, but if re-posting, please afford authorial and institutional attribution. Exclusive rights can be negotiated.


[1] Associated Press, “US on verge of momentous Cuba decision: Whether to take island off controversial terror list,” March 23, 2013.

[2] Bolender, Keith, “Cuba Under Siege,” Palgrave 2012.

[3] Bohning, Don, “The Castro Obsession,” Potamic Books, 2005.

[4] Chomsky, Noam, “Hegemony or Survival,” Noam Chomsky, Metropolitan Books, 2003.

[5] Schoultz, Lars, “That Infernal Little Cuban Republic,” University of North Carolina Press, 2009.


[7] Franklin, Jane, “Looking for terrorists in Cuba’s health system,” Z Magazine, June 2003.

[8] Bardach, Ann Louise and Larry Rohter, “Key Cuba foe claims exile’s backing” The New York Times, July 12 1998.

[9] Posada Carriles, Luis, National Security Archives, The declassified record

[10]; Source: The White House, online, May 2003 [] made during his speech “President George W. Bush’s Address announcing end of major combat operations in Iraq,” May 1, 2003.

[11] Ibid.

[12] The State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 (issued in April 2005),; The State Department’s 2006 Country Reports on terrorism,

[13] Associated Press, “US on verge of momentous Cuba decision: Whether to take island off controversial terror list,” March 23, 2013.

[14] “Open Cuba to US travelers,” Tampa Bay Times, John Kerry, December 7, 2009.

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