Obama OKs removing Cuba from terrorism list

President Obama sent a message to congress today (Tuesday April 14) informing members that he plans to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Cuba has resided on the list since 1982, when then President Ronald Reagan placed them there for their “support of leftist insurgents in Latin America,” as described by The New York Times. The move is the last hurdle, according to experts, in the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations who have not seen eye to eye for more than half a century.Letter2

The president’s move had been expected since late last week when leaks from anonymous sources inside the White House and Department of State began appearing in major media outlets from around the U.S.

According to The Washington Post, “Congress [now] has 45 days to consider Cuba’s removal from the list before it becomes effective, but cannot interfere with Obama’s decision without voting separate legislation, a measure that the White House has deemed unlikely.”

Over the past years many analysts have said that Cuba’s designation had more to do with politics than any terrorist activity. And as described in The New York Times report, “To many, the decision to remove Cuba from the list affirmed the obvious. When Mr. Obama announced that he would seek normal ties with Cuba, he expressed doubt that the nation belonged on the list.” Other countries on the list include Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Removal from the list should also facilitate Cuba’s access to financial markets paving the way for future possibilities denied the island nation over the past years.

Occasional Progreso Weekly contributor Antonio Martinez II, a New York lawyer whose practice includes the regulations surrounding Cuban assets, was quoted in The Times report saying that the terrorism designation “is a hot potato that is literally too hot for the banks involved to do the business.

“The banks involved in or contemplating doing business with Cuba have an enormous compliance burden that does not justify the costs,” he added. “That is why no bank wanted” to have accounts with Cuban diplomats in the United States, complicating efforts to reopen an embassy.

Of course, as expected, the usual anti-Cuban suspects are now decrying Obama’s decision. Pre-empting the expected move by the White House, Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told The New York Times that Cuba’s removal “would be nothing short of a miscarriage of justice borne out of political motivations not rooted in reality.”

She said that the Obama administration was “so desperate to open up an embassy in Havana at any cost that it is willing to concede to Castro’s demand,” adding that the action would “further embolden the regime and undermine U.S. national security.”