It is quite a sad commentary that with John Kerry as Secretary of State, the continued inclusion on the list of State Sponsors of Terror of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba, which has extensive and deep ties with terrorists organizations all over the world and harbors dozens of terrorist fugitives, is actually in question.
US on verge of momentous Cuba decision: Whether to take island off controversial terror list
HAVANA – A normally routine bit of Washington bureaucracy could have a big impact on U.S. relations with Cuba, either ushering in a long-stalled detente or slamming the door on rapprochement, perhaps until the scheduled end of the Castro era in 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry must decide within a few weeks whether to advocate that President Barack Obama should take Cuba off a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a collection of Washington foes that also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan.
Cuban officials have long seen the terror designation as unjustified and told visiting American delegations privately in recent weeks that they view Kerry’s recommendation as a litmus test for improved ties. They also hinted the decision could affect discussions over the release of jailed U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross, whose detention in 2009 torpedoed hopes of a diplomatic thaw.
Inclusion on the list means a ban not only on arms sales to Cuba but also on items that can have dual uses, including some hospital equipment. It also requires that the United States oppose any loans to Cuba by the World Bank or other international lending institutions, among other measures.
U.S. officials agree the recommendation, which Kerry must make before the State Department’s annual terror report is published April 30, has become ensnared in the standoff over Gross. The American was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was caught bringing communications equipment onto the island illegally while working for a USAID-funded democracy-building program.
Cuba has been on the terror list since 1982, and is also the target of a 51-year U.S. economic embargo — the reason why the island of beaches, music and rum is the only country Americans cannot visit as tourists. Removal from the list would not change that.
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Although Helms-Burton would still block them, the key point to remember here is that only reason Cuba wants to be removed from the list is so they can possibly get access to unsecured loans from the World Bank. Loans that as the dictatorship’s credit history clearly indicates, they have no intention of ever paying back.