In Desperate Pre-Summit Play, Obama to Remove Cuba From Terrorism List

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
The Obama Administration knows it's going to get lambasted at this week's Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

Cuba and Venezuela are preparing to embarrass Obama with a petition of 10 million signatures against his recent Executive Order targeting corrupt officials and human rights violators.  They are also preparing an alternative Summit agenda to turn the event into a full-on circus.

This, despite all of the concessions Obama announced towards Cuba on December 17th.

Desperate to change the subject and to try to further charm Castro and Maduro, Obama also wants to announce the removal of Cuba from the state-sponsors of terrorism list before the Summit. Thus, The White House has been pressuring the State Department to do so this week.

As we recently published in the World Affairs Journal, here are five issues to watch how the State Department will either explain-away or simply ignore:

- Cuba is providing sanctuary to US-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 Army of Colombia (ELN), and Spain’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.” 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 US murder indictment. In 2003, a US federal court indicted then-head of the Cuban Air Force, General 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 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 US 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 Venezuela. Their presence and control of Venezuela’s military, police, 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. Last month’s executive order by Obama declaring Venezuela as a national security threat and sanctioning seven senior government officials—with well-known links to Cuba’s military and security services—for their nefarious activities underscores this menace.

- 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, which the UN 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 UN authorities. And just this month, a Chinese-flagged ship was intercepted in Colombia carrying an illegal cache of weapons destined for Cuba’s military. Thus, what credible “assurances” can the Castro regime give the United States—as required by law—that it will now refrain from rogue activities?

Also, it should address whether the most recent weapons shipment intercepted in Colombia was an effort by Cuba's regime to smuggle weapons for the FARC. See more here.