Cuban-American lawmakers press White House to keep Cuba on terror list
Cuban-American lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to keep Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as the State Department prepares to release its annual assessment next week.
The four Cuban-Americans in the House are drafting a joint letter to Secretary of State John Kerry laying out why they think the communist island still meets the criteria established by the 1979 sanctions law. And the Senate’s three Cuban-Americans are also vocally opposed to delisting Cuba, which was first added in 1982.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told The Hill she’s collaborating with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.) and Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) on a letter urging the State Department to retain Cuba alongside Iran, Syria and Sudan. The push comes amid reports – vehemently denied by the State Department – that U.S. diplomats have concluded Cuba should be removed from the list to pave the way for better relations with President Raul Castro.
“We will be laying out a very concrete plan in this coming week about why Cuba deserves to maintain its place in this rogues’ gallery,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
She said she was particularly encouraged by Thursday’s news that the Justice Department has indicted a former U.S. Agency for International Development employee, Marta Rita Velazquez, for allegedly helping a convicted former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst spy for Cuba. The Obama administration is seeking her extradition from Sweden.
“It’s a recent indication again of the threat that the Castro regime poses to U.S. national security interests,” Ros-Lehtinen said. It “means that somebody in the administration is still aware of the threat that Castro poses.”
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