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Cuba remains on list of countries that don’t help US fight terrorism

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, right, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Teresita Gonzalez. (Adalberto Roque/ AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The U.S. State Department maintained Cuba on the list of countries that aren’t “cooperating fully” with U.S. efforts to fight terrorism, according to a statement on Tuesday. The list also includes Syria, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said on Twitter he was surprised: “This slanderous action as well as continued enforcement of Trump’s policy and his 243 blockade measures are both surprising and irritating.”

Countries on the list of nations that don’t help the U.S. fight terrorism worldwide are prohibited from exporting arms and defense services, amid other restrictions.

Cuba was included on the list in 2019, a step before the Trump administration declared it a country that sponsors terrorism in January this year. It was one of Trump’s last foreign policy decisions and a move that capped four years of escalating economic and diplomatic pressure against the island.

Trump’s decision marked a major setback for Havana, which had left that list in 2015 during the process of normalization of relations between both countries.

The Trump administration accused Havana of supporting the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, something that Maduro himself has confirmed, as well as hosting the top leadership of the Colombian National Liberation Army guerrillas.

Cuban authorities expected a change of course in policy toward Cuba with the Biden administration and sent numerous signals declaring their desire to resume the path of normalization that started under President Barack Obama.

The White House, for its part, has said that Cuba is not a priority in foreign policy. President Joe Biden hasn’t signaled any intention to eliminate controversial decisions of the previous administration, such as a ban on flights to most airports, limitations on remittances and a prohibition of cruises to the island.

Cuba is struggling under the worst economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed tourism and sanctions by the Trump administration severely limited remittances, a key lifeline for the island. Painful currency reforms have sent inflation soaring, and long lines for food have again become commonplace. A nascent but increasingly vocal movement on social media is channeling mounting discontent and an emerging civil society is sharing its message and demanding reform.

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© 2021 Miami Herald

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