Mass. lawmakers want Cuba off terror list

JIM McGOVERN

JIM McGOVERN

Staff Report

Published: 01-03-2024 10:39 AM

WASHINGTON — Saying U.S. actions have added to the suffering of the Cuban people, Massachusetts lawmakers — including both senators, Rep. Jim McGovern and four other House members — are pressing President Joe Biden to remove the Caribbean nation from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.

After President Barack Obama removed Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list in 2015 following an exhaustive review by experts at the State Department and in the intelligence community, President Donald Trump put it back on the list in the waning days of his administration, citing no new facts to justify the decision, the lawmakers say.

“It was a vindictive action taken by the Trump administration in January 2021 as it departed office,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that, “[i]n fact, Cuba and the United States have a functioning bilateral cooperation agreement on counterterrorism.”

The lawmakers’ letter also notes that the terrorism listing is a major factor impacting Cuban instability. Severe shortages of food, medicine, fuel and other necessities are causing an unprecedented number of Cubans to flee the island.

“While there are multiple reasons for the economic crisis in Cuba, without a doubt a significant contributing factor is the restrictions and penalties facing international financial institutions and other entities because Cuba is on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list,” the lawmakers wrote.

As a candidate, the letter states, Biden promised to address re-engagement with Cuba and return to the policy begun during the Obama-Biden administration.

“We supported you on this commitment,” the lawmakers conclude, noting that “two and a half years into your presidency, the overwhelming number of sanctions put in place by your predecessor, including placing Cuba back on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, remain in effect.

“We believe the time to act and remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list is now — not months from now. There is no political or other policy argument that can justify the U.S. continuing to knowingly add to the suffering of the Cuban people.”

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Besides McGovern, those signing the letter are Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Seth Moulton, Lori Trahan and Stephen F. Lynch, along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.

The full text of the letter can be found at bit.ly/4aLMeK7.