Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism?

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to remove Cuba from the State Department's list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
The Latin America Working Group in Washington, D.C., plans to deliver the petition to:
  • Barack Obama, president of the United States
  • Raymond McGrath, coordinator of Cuban Affairs at the State Department, and
  • Ricardo Zuniga, senior director for the Western Hemisphere at National Security Council
LAWG writes:
What do Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan have in common? They are all on the U.S. government’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism”. Which one seems to be the oddball? Cuba? The presence of Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism symbolizes everything that’s wrong with our approach to Cuba. It’s based on a myth... 
On Feb. 21, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters there are no plans to remove Cuba from the list:
When we did our last review in 2012, we saw no reason to remove it. We will revisit it this year, but — as I said — there’s no plans at the moment.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said in a statement that she was relieved that Nuland said Cuba would remain on the list. She said:
The Castro brothers align themselves with the likes of Ahmadinejad of Iran, al-Assad of Syria, Qaddafi of Libya before his death, along with terrorist groups, such as the FARC and the ETA.
It is important to keep Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism because the secretive and dangerous regime conspires with extremist elements around the world and, due to its proximity to the US, poses a threat to our national security.
Phil Peters, a former State Department official and Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute, doesn't believe Cuba poses a threat. And lifting the designation would not be a "unilateral concession to Havana." He wrote:
If you did something stupid like batting one-handed for, say, a few decades, would you refuse to bat two-handed because to do so would be a concession to the other team?
He added that if U.S. officials and hardline exiles "really thought Cuba were a terrorism sponsor, would we be admitting every Cuban who arrives on a U.S. shore or border crossing, processing them within days, giving them quick access to public assistance and a path to a green card in one year? Would we not worry that some might be sent to harm us?"
Peters wrote:
Ending the designation would make the U.S. voice on terrorism more serious, and it might make others take our Cuba policy more seriously because it would be more based on legitimate criticisms.
If there’s a national security case to be made about Cuba, or a need for additional political criticisms or economic sanctions, let it be made based on evidence rather than repeating an accusation that has not been valid for years.

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