A crucial decision a few days before the handover. Donald Trump’s administration tried on Monday to make a possible rapprochement between the future American government of Joe Biden and Cuba more complicated by placing the island again on the blacklist of “states supporting terrorism”.
“The State Department has classified Cuba as a state supporting terrorism for having repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism by providing refuge to terrorists,” announced the head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo nine days before. the end of the term of the Republican executive and the entry into office of the President-elect Democrat.
“With this measure, we will again hold the government of Cuba accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and the subversion of American justice,” he added. in a press release, referring to former Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro.
Cuba denounces “political opportunism”
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez immediately denounced the “political opportunism” of the Trump administration, “recognized by all who honestly care about the scourge of terrorism and its victims”. Cuba joins Iran, North Korea and Syria on this blacklist. Sudan has just been withdrawn by Donald Trump.
Havana, for its part, left the list in 2015, during the spectacular rapprochement operated by former Democratic President Barack Obama, of which Joe Biden was the vice-president. That same year, the two enemy countries re-established diplomatic relations in an attempt to turn the page on the Cold War.
During a historic 2016 visit to Cuba, Barack Obama even became the first sitting US president to set foot on Cuban soil since the Castro revolution of 1959.
Biden against “restrictions”
But during the four years of his only mandate, Donald Trump, willingly speaking to the large community of Cuban exiles in Florida, a key electorate in a key state, kept revisiting the policy of openness of its predecessor and to toughen, rather than lift, the severe embargo imposed on the Caribbean island since 1962.
Blacklisting is expected to further hamper foreign investment in Cuba. It also appears as a last-minute attempt to make any will of the future President Biden more difficult to reconnect with the communist power of Havana.
The Democrat had said during his campaign that he would move quickly to “remove Trump’s restrictions on money transfers and travel” that harm Cubans and separate families.
If he wants to cancel Monday’s sanction, however, he will have to wait and go through a complex and often long legal process: the State Department will have to initiate a formal analysis in order to be able to declare that the country has not had any links. terrorists in the past six months.
“Murderers, fireworks, hijackers”
Mike Pompeo, a hawk and pillar of Trumpism, seems to want to take advantage of his last days at the head of American diplomacy to drive the nail to the end against the main pet peeves of American conservatives, such as Cuba, Iran or China , by increasing the penalties.
“The Trump administration has made every effort since the beginning to deny the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people, and to counter its harmful interference in Venezuela and the rest of the American continent,” he said. said in his statement.
He accused the Cuban government of having “fed, housed and cared for for years murderers, artificers, hijackers, while many Cubans lack food, shelter and basic medicine” .
To justify his decision, he invoked Havana’s refusal to extradite ten leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to Colombia after the January 2019 attack, claimed by the group, against the school of Cadets from Bogota, who killed 22 people. “Cuba also welcomes several Americans escaping justice, wanted or charged with political violence,” he added.