Cuba denounces inclusion in State Department “sponsors of terrorism” list

Once again, the U.S. Department of State has included Cuba, along with Sudan, Syria and Iran, in its list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.”

The list was first issued in 1979, and Cuba was on it for the first time in 1982, and has been included thirteen times since then. The current list, announced on Aug. 18, covers the situation in 2010.

As usual, the State Department’s rationale for including Cuba in the list is paper thin:

Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982, the Government of Cuba has maintained a public stance against terrorism and terrorist financing in 2010, but there was no evidence that it had severed ties with elements from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and recent media reports indicate some current and former members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Available information suggested that the Cuban government maintained limited contact with FARC members, but there was no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support. In March, the Cuban government allowed Spanish Police to travel to Cuba to confirm the presence of the suspected ETA Members.


Cuba continued to denounce U.S. counterterrorism efforts throughout the world, portraying them as a pretext to extend U.S. influence and power.


Cuba did not sponsor counterterrorism initiatives or participate in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010.

The issue of the FARC and ETA contacts is mendacious and the State Department knows it. Cuba has, on and off, played a mediating role between the Colombian government and the FARC (and also the ELN, another insurgent group in Colombia). To that end, the Cuban government allowed the FARC to have a small office in Havana, with the full knowledge and consent of the Colombian government. It is very likely that Cuba may be asked to play a similar mediating role in the future, in which case the FARC contacts will be essential. Likewise, the ETA members were allowed to settle in Cuba with the full agreement of Felipe Gonzalez, the Spanish Prime Minister at the time. There is absolutely no evidence that Cuba allows these people to mount terrorist attacks from its national territory, or finances the FARC or the ETA or any other such group.

The final statement, that Cuba has not sponsored counterterrorism efforts or participated in regional or global operations against terrorists, is untrue. Cuba has worked with Venezuela and other countries to intercept and arrest terrorists. The trouble is that these are terrorists planning violent acts against Cuba, which, for the State Department, somehow doesn’t count.

The Cuban government responded forcefully to the slur. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a statement on its website.

The Cuban statement concentrates on pointing the hypocrisy of the United States, with its history of not only supporting but sponsoring terrorist attacks against Cuba and other countries, sitting in judgment on Cuba “to justify the cruel and repudiated policy of the blockade against Cuba.”

“The U.S. government acts as if it had not protected, permanently, the confessed criminal Luis Posada Carriles, whom it has refused to prosecute on terrorism charges….” in spite of knowing full well that he and the late Orlando Bosch had organized the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civil airliner, in which 73 people were killed, plus other, more recent terrorist incidents. Posada was tried on immigration fraud charges last year, but got off due to serious errors by an apparently biased judge. But the U.S. has never charged him with terrorism.

The Ministry statement continues: “Some 3,478 Cubans have been killed and 2,099 have been maimed as the result of terrorist actions organized, funded perpetrated from U.S. territory often with the very [sic] complicity of the government of the United States…Cuba demands that the U.S. government punishes the real terrorists who now reside in U.S. territory, and free the Five anti-terrorist heroes and end the policy of blockade and hostility against our country, which threatens the legitimate interests of both peoples.”

In fact, the short Cuban note did not cover many other terrorists, besides Posada, whom the United States has either sponsored or tolerated. The website gives a more complete list. The failure of successive U.S. administrations to crack down on anti-Cuba terrorism coming out of the exile community in South Florida has created a feeling of impunity in such circles. So it was possible for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, now Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to openly call for the assassination of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, without any consequences to her or even a major public scandal.

A double standard, indeed.

Photo: twicepix // CC 2.0



Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.