The Democratic Socialists of America International Committee (DSA IC) reiterates its opposition to the United States embargo of Cuba and calls on the Biden administration to immediately remove Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terror (SSOT).
Donald Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced Cuba’s designation to the State Sponsor of Terror list on January 11, 2021, in the final week of the lame-duck Trump administration. The ostensive reasoning cited Cuba’s support for the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), a Colombian guerrilla organization. Cuba had been guarantor of peace talks between the ELN and the right-wing Colombian government of Ivan Duque, but when talks broke off in 2020, Duque called on Trump to designate Cuba a State Sponsor of Terror for harboring the negotiators. Trump’s re-designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terror served the cynical purpose of handing a political gift to the ultra-right wing Cuban exile community in the United States, while also preempting Joe Biden’s campaign promise to return to Obama-era policies of rapprochement with Cuba.
The current government of Colombia under Gustavo Petro has returned to the negotiating table with the ELN and has explicitly called on the Biden administration to remove Cuba from the SSOT designation. The ELN members given safe harbor have also since left Cuba. The other U.S. grievances cited in Trump’s designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terror, such as harboring U.S. fugitives like Assata Shakur, were found not to fall under the criteria for the SSOT during the U.S. State Department’s 2015 review of U.S.-Cuba relations.
The State Sponsor of Terror list punitively harms Cuba’s economy and stands as the most significant barrier to rapprochement between the United States and the Republic of Cuba. Under the SSOT designation, financial institutions and international businesses are obligated to undertake “special due diligence” to avoid financing international terror. Such restrictions have a chilling effect, making businesses and financial institutions risk secondary sanctions, frozen assets, or other legal reprisals from the United States in order to do business in Cuba. At least 45 financial institutions with previous relationships to Cuba cut ties after the designation, and the effects have contributed to the worst economic crisis in Cuba since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its trading bloc. Even as the United States and Cuba have initiated collaborative talks on areas like immigration, natural disasters, and counter-terrorism, the Biden administration has continued the absurd designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror while promising for over two years to review this designation.
The DSA International Committee calls on President Biden, Secretary Blinken, and the U.S. State Department to immediately remove Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terror and to begin the process of normalizing relations. The DSA International Committee reiterates its condemnation of economic sanctions against the Republic of Cuba, joining the overwhelming majority of the world’s countries that voted to condemn the embargo during the United Nations general assembly in November, and calls on members of congress to remove travel, trade, and financial restrictions against Cuba. The Democratic Socialists of America (through the IC) expresses its solidarity with the Cuban people in their revolutionary and socialist struggle against United States imperialism and issues a call to action for every chapter to commit to fighting the embargo through the International Committee’s Cuba working group.