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5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation

5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation
Mauricio Claver-Carone – Director, Cuba Democracy Advocates in
Washington, D.C.
Posted: 03/19/2015 1:14 pm EDT Updated: 03/19/2015 1:59 pm EDT

Cuba’s regime has made it clear in recent weeks that
“normalizing” relations with the United States hinges on removing the
designation of that island nation from the U.S. list of “state-sponsors
of terrorism.” Iran, Sudan and Syria are the only other nations
currently on the list, which is compiled by the State Department.

Last December, as Obama announced his intent to re-establish
formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, he also publicly instructed
Secretary of State John Kerry to review Cuba’s status. The review, the
President added, should be “guided by the facts and the law.” In the
weeks since, there have been reports of the White House pressuring the
State Department and intelligence community to accelerate the review so
that the President and Castro can shake hands at the April “Summit of
the Americas” in Panama City.

That provokes serious concerns about whether the review is, indeed,
being “guided by the facts and the law” or become the veneer covering
additional concessions that the Obama Administration agreed to during
18-months of secret negotiations with Castro’s regime. We don’t know
what those were. We do know that before taking Cuba off the list of
state sponsors of terrorism, statutory criteria must be satisfied and
that actions by Raul Castro’s regime make it unlikely they can be met.

Under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act (as currently
re-authorized under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act),
the President must submit a report to Congress, 45-days before
terminating the designation, that certifies the Cuban government has not
provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding
six months and has made assurances to the United States that it will not
support terrorist acts in the future.

To be based on “the law and the facts,” the following five facts about
Castro’s regime must be reconciled with the law:

• Cuba is providing sanctuary to U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist
Organizations. It’s indisputable that Cuba currently provides sanctuary
to terrorists from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
the National Liberation of Colombia (ELN) and ’s Basque
separatist group, ETA. If the Obama Administration no longer believes
FARC, ELN and ETA are terrorist organizations, which would be
mind-boggling, then the State Department must first review their
designation as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).” De-listing Cuba
as a state-sponsor of terrorism while countenancing its harboring and
abetting of terrorist organizations is disingenuous, a folly akin to
placing the cart before the horse.

• Cuba is harboring one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Terrorists.”
Joanne Chesimard remains among the top ten on the FBI’s list of Most
Wanted Terrorists for the execution-style murder of a New Jersey State
Trooper. Chesimard, who the Castro regime has reiterated will not be
returned to face justice, is the only “Top Ten” terrorist to be openly
living in a state-sponsor nation. Again, if the Obama Administration no
longer believes that Chesimard is a terrorist — also mind-boggling —
it should first remove her from the FBI list.

• Three senior Cuban military officers remain under a U.S. murder
indictment. In 2003, a U.S. federal court indicted then-head of the
Cuban Air Force, Gen. Rubén Martínez Puente, and two MiG pilots, Lorenzo
Alberto Pérez-Pérez and Francisco Pérez-Pérez, for the 1996 shoot-down
of two civilian planes — killing four men — over international waters.
Three were American citizens, and one a permanent resident. No similar
indictment has been issued against any military officials of other
nations deemed to be sponsors of terrorism.

Emphasizing this challenge, last month President Obama extended a
national emergency declaration finding that “the Cuban government has
not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force
against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities
or peaceful protest north of Cuba.”

• Cuba provides material support to subversive and criminal elements in
the region. Cuba was originally placed on the terrorism list in 1982 for
its training and arming of subversive forces in Africa and the Americas.
Today, thousands of Cuban soldiers and intelligence officials are
stationed in . Their presence and control of ’s
military, , and intelligence services is subverting democracy in
that nation. Cuba has armed and trained violent paramilitary groups,
known as “colectivos,” and remains involved in narcotics trafficking and
other criminal activities.

• Cuba has recently lied twice to the international community about
smuggling weapons. In a report last year, United Nations officials
confirmed Cuba’s attempt to smuggle 240 tons of heavy weaponry to North
Korea, hidden under tons of sugar. Panamanian officials discovered the
contraband that the U.N. panel described as the largest and most
egregious violation of international sanctions to date. The panel
documented the Castro regime’s lack of cooperation, false statements and
strategy to conceal and deceive U.N. authorities. And just last week, a
Chinese-flagged ship was intercepted in Colombia carrying an
cache of weapons destined for Cuba’s military. Thus, what credible
“assurances” — as required by law — can the Castro regime give the
United States that it will now refrain from rogue activities?

The Obama-Castro deal has been subject to a great deal of criticism for
lifting trade and restrictions without extracting any political
or economic reforms from Cuba’s dictatorship. American aid worker Alan
was allowed to return home, but Castro had seized him as a hostage
to coerce U.S. concessions. To sidestep clear legal impediments to
remove Cuba from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, however,
goes beyond political embarrassment. It would be an irreparable blow to
the credibility of the Administration’s foreign-policy leadership.

Follow Mauricio Claver-Carone on Twitter:

Source: 5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation |
Mauricio Claver-Carone –

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