The Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE) draws attention to the fact that the U.S. Department of State, in its Country Reports on Terrorism 2022, implicitly acknowledges there is no justification for Cuba to be designated a State Sponsor of Terror (SSOT). This report, published on November 30, 2023, reiterates the absurd claim that Cuba “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism” because it “refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN (National Liberation Army) leaders living in Havana.”
However, the report itself admits that Cuba’s refusal was due to “peace negotiation protocols” and that Colombia “announced that arrest warrants would be suspended against 17 ELN commanders, including those whose extradition Colombia had previously requested.” This acknowledgment undercuts the primary argument for Cuba’s inclusion on the SSOT list, which has already been declared by legal scholars and lawyers to have no legal basis.
It should be further noted that Colombian President Gustavo Petro characterized the original extradition request as “a betrayal of previous agreements signed in the form of protocols with Colombia, Cuba and Norway.” President Petro has also repeatedly called for Cuba to be removed from the SSOT list, as have over a dozen former and current Latin American heads of state.
ACERE notes that the SSOT designation causes significant damage to Cuba’s economy and humanitarian efforts to assist the Cuban people. As a result of Cuba’s inclusion on the list, over 30 financial institutions left the country within weeks of the designation. This makes it even more difficult to find banks willing to do any transactions related to Cuba. The Cuban private sector is also severely affected, as the designation limits trade, discourages investment and cuts access to digital services. Additionally, more stringent U.S. visa requirements for Europeans who visit Cuba have significantly depressed the tourism industry.
ACERE once again urges the Biden Administration to remove Cuba from the SSOT list and to return to the path of engagement and normalization of relations.