US designates Cuba a 'state sponsor of terrorism'
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 island country.
The latest designation, which has been discussed for years, is one of several last-minute foreign policy decisions that the Trump administration is making before Biden takes office on January 20.
Removing Cuba from the blacklist was one of former President Barack Obama’s main foreign policy achievements as he sought better relations with the island.
Trump has tried to reverse many of Obama’s decisions involving Cuba. He has taken a tough line on Havana and rolled back many of the sanctions that the Obama administration 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 with Cuba, ties have been increasingly strained.
The Trump administration has 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.
Few US allies believe Cuba remains a sponsor of international terrorism.
Cuba’s foreign affairs minister Bruno Rodriguez slammed the US sanction on Monday and called Trump’s movement “political opportunism.”
“We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism,” Rodriguez wrote on Twitter.
“The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”
“Cuba is a state victim of terrorism perpetrated for years by the US government or by individuals and organizations that operate from that territory with tolerance from the authorities,” Cuba’s Director General for US Affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cossio said on Twitter.
Analysts view the move as an attempt to hamper Biden’s efforts to reimpose some of the engagement started under Obama.