Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Trump Adds Cuba to List of Countries “Sponsoring Terrorism”

The Trump administration put Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on Monday. This maneuver to punish Cuba comes amid the Far Right attack on the U.S. Capitol and is an attempt for Trump to score points with the Republicans’ social and electoral base.

Diego Dalai

January 14, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share

On Monday, while the repercussions of the historic right-wing assault on the U.S. Capitol were the focus of national and international news, the Trump administration put Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a list Obama had removed Cuba from in  2015.

In a press statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “With this action, we will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice.”

The justifications were bizarre, highlighting just how much this is an anti-Cuban political maneuver meant to rev up Trump’s base. Pompeo argued that Cuba was “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.”

The accusation stems from Havana’s refusal to extradite 10 leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a Colombian guerrilla group, who a few years ago traveled to the island to hold peace negotiations with the Colombian government. This was the same process used to reach the Colombian government’s reactionary peace agreements with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), another guerrilla group,  in November 2016.

But after the talks failed, the Colombian government demanded that Cuba hand over the ELN negotiators because the ELN had attacked a police school in Bogotá. This demand overlooked a more complicated context: the  attack came during a period of  mutual attacks at a moment of conflict, when the Colombian army was much stronger and the conflict was favorable to the army. The Colombian army, it is worth remembering, was financed and trained for decades by the United States, which colluded with paramilitary groups and police to carry out all kinds of crimes, including killing civilian targets. One need only look at the numbers of social leaders and former members of the FARC killed after the 2016 accords to see who really sows the seeds of terror.

In his diatribe against Cuba, Pompeo added that the Trump administration is “countering [Cuba’s] malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.” This kind of moralizing seems more relevant for an evangelical pastor, not a national leader.

Pompeo goes further, claiming that “the Cuban government has fed, housed, and provided medical care for murderers, bombmakers, and hijackers, while many Cubans go hungry, homeless, and without basic medicine.”

Pompeo cynically laments the hardships suffered by the Cuban people as if this were not primarily the product of the economic blockade that Trump reinforced as soon as he came to the White House. Trump even went as far as blockading medical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic. In other words, the Trump administration blames the Cuban government for the crimes that the United States commits.

On November 30, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez denounced a U.S. “maneuver” to return Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He explained that this was meant to “please the anti-Cuban minority in Florida.” He claims that the United States “guarantees refuge and impunity to terrorist groups that act against Cuba from its territory,” such as CIA asset Luis Posada Carriles.

Of course, the United States is the biggest funder, supporter, and perpetrator of violence, terror, and sanctions in the world. It organizes coups, military dictatorships, and the assassination of foreign leaders. It relegates the poor and working class of their enemies to complete desperation with vindictive sanctions, as well as military interventions and drone strikes, while at the same time supporting and funding governments with terrible human rights records, like Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Including Cuba on the terrorism list will mean increased obstacles to trade and furthered sanctions. But since the aforementioned blockade already weighs on Cuba, the objective is primarily political rather than economic. As Trump’s lawsuits to steal the election lost appeal after appeal in court, some of his former Republican allies deserted him, and the attack on the Capitol was widely repudiated. This maneuver to punish Cuba is meant to win points with the Republicans’ social and electoral base.

Polls show that 70 percent of Republican voters believe the election was stolen, and 45 percent approve of the January 6 assault on the Capitol. This important base of support, which comprises several tens of millions of people, includes anti-Castro groups concentrated in South Florida and other parts of the country. Hence, this new measure is more of a “propaganda coup” than action with real consequences. Yet, some speculate that it could complicate the chances that Joe Biden could quickly resume some level of a relationship with Havana.

In any case, such a “complication” would not be a legacy left by Trump, but rather a consequence of the new Democratic administration’s own foreign policy, from which, beyond gestures and a less confrontational discourse, no significant changes are expected in major geopolitical issues such as the trade war with China or the nuclear agreement with Iran. In the case of relations with Cuba, there are no major expectations either, but it cannot be ruled out that Biden will return to  the path Obama walked  with a “thaw” in bilateral relations and the partial relaxation of some of the most brutal restrictions imposed by the economic blockade. The governing bureaucracy in Cuba is betting on this scenario to advance its plan of pro-market reforms.

We repudiate Trump’s new measure, which is part of the long chain of aggressions that both Republicans and Democrats have perpetrated against Cuba. We demand the immediate lifting of the blockade, an end to interference against sovereign states, and the return of the Guantánamo base, which the U.S. government continues to illegally maintain and which is part of the military-terrorist apparatus that the U.S. has deployed worldwide.

Facebook Twitter Share

Diego Dalai

Diego is an international editor at our sister site in Argentina, La Izquierda Diario.

Latin America

Coldest Weather in Decades Hits Brazil — Climate Change Is to Blame

This month, on the heels of the country’s worst drought in a century, Brazil has experienced historic cold weather. The effects on agriculture could have negative consequences across the world.

Otto Fors

July 30, 2021
An artistic rendering of a silhouette carrying a Cuban flag

The Situation on the Island and Its Prospects: Interview with a Young Cuban Communist

La Izquierda Diario interviews Taliesin Álvarez, a member of the Union of Young Communists and of the Hermanos Saíz Association, and a member of the editorial board of the left-wing Cuban blog Comunistas, about the demonstrations in Cuba.

Milton D'León

July 26, 2021

Cuba: Causes and Consequences of July 11

In the midst of multiple crises, Cuba saw the most dramatic protests in 27 years.

Claudia Cinatti

July 25, 2021
A silhouette of an adult running, against a background of fire and smoke. It is night time and the street is full of burning or burned debris

Revolt in Martinique against Colonial Management of the Health Crisis

With the health situation in Martinique continuing to deteriorate, a revolt broke out this past weekend after the government announced it was reinstituting a curfew and extending the vaccine passport.

Emile Causse

July 23, 2021


Pro-Palestine protesters at a march in Philadelphia. Palestinian flags in the background while someone holds up a sign that says "Freedom for Palestine."

Temple University Rank and Filers Release Palestine Solidarity Statement

Rank and filers at Temple University in Philly are demanding their union local and national fight to end all support for Israel and join the cause of Palestinian workers.

Jason Koslowski

August 3, 2021
Four healthcare workers, including co-author of this article Mike Pappas, stand in scrubs and masks in front of an Amazon warehouse holding signs in support of better wages and safer working conditions for Amazon workers.

What Billionaire Space Flights Mean to Healthcare Workers

While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage around the globe and climate disaster is destroying the planet, billionaires are taking joyrides to space. Two healthcare workers who worked throughout the pandemic respond.

Mike Pappas

August 2, 2021
An older woman wearing a hat holds a sign that reads "No More Unjust Revictions: I Lost My Home of 36 Years"

Eviction Moratorium Expired, Millions Face Homelessness

After a half-hearted attempt to extend the eviction moratorium failed, the House of Representatives left for summer vacation.

Emma Lee

August 2, 2021
Image of rubble and a lot of smoke in the background. People stand in front of the wreckage.

Joe Biden is Bombing Somalia

Despite claims to reduce drone strikes, Joe Biden is bombing Somalia.

K.S. Mehta

August 1, 2021