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Trump Slaps Cuba With Terrorism Label

New sanctions could make it tougher for Biden to improve relations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 11, 2021 6:20 PM CST

(Newser) – The Trump administration on Monday redesignated Cuba as a "state sponsor of terrorism," hitting the country with new sanctions that could hamstring President-elect Joe Biden's promise to renew relations with the communist-governed island nation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the step, the AP reports. He cited in particular Cuba's continued harboring of US fugitives and its refusal to extradite a coterie of Colombian guerrilla commanders, as well as its support for Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. The designation is one of several last-minute foreign policy moves that the Trump administration is making before Biden takes office. Removing Cuba from the blacklist had been one of former President Barack Obama's main foreign policy achievements as he sought better relations with its government, an effort endorsed by Biden as his vice president. Ties had been essentially frozen after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

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Trump has sought to reverse many of Obama's decisions involving Cuba, rolling back many of the sanctions that Obama had eased or lifted after the restoration of full diplomatic relations in 2015. Since Trump took office, after a campaign that attacked Obama's moves to normalize relations, ties have been increasingly strained. The Trump administration has also suggested that Cuba may have been behind or allowed alleged sonic attacks that left dozens of US diplomats in Havana with brain injuries starting in late 2016. However, few US allies believe Cuba remains a sponsor of international terrorism, quibbling with either the definition based on the support for Maduro or outright rejecting American claims that Cuban authorities are bankrolling or masterminding international terrorist attacks. Rep. Gregory Meeks, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Trump's move would not help the Cuban people and seeks only to tie the hands of the Biden administration.

(Read more Cuba stories.)

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