An historic decision was reached this week when the White House announced that the country of Cuba would be removed from the United States’ list of sponsored terrorist states. Cuba had been on the notorious list since December 29, 1979, when the list was created. The only countries on the list at that time were Libya, Iraq, South Yemen and Syria. However, prior to the creation of the list, the U.S. had cut all diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961, during the Cold War.
Over the decades, Cuba has taken issue with the U.S. terrorism list, due to the history of Cuban exiles, supported by the U.S. in the past, who were responsible for terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a Cuban passenger plane that originated in the Barbados, headed for Cuba. That attack killed all of the 73 passengers on the flight. The attack was linked to anti-Castro Cuban exiles living in the United States, including the infamous Luis Posada Carriles, also nicknamed “Bambi”, by some Cuban exiles, who lives in Miami today.
Several family members of the victims of the bombing agreed that the removal of Cuba from the list is a positive step that will help to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Many are anxious to move on from the past and begin the healing process.
President Obama announced last month on April 14 th, which the administration had intended to remove Cuba from the designation of “state sponsor of terrorism.” Keeping that promise, on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the designation would be removed immediately effective, as of May 29, 2015,
The former designation began was mainly created due to Cuba’s communists system, which supported guerrillas organizations around the word. The result of which caused Cuba to lose financial ties with the United States, causing it to suffer severe economic repercussions. Following Secretary Kerry’s announcement, the White House blogged that the decision to remove Cuba from the list is a step towards normalizing relations with the country.
Republican opponents however have been quick to criticize the White House’s action. John Boehner, Speaker of the House referred to President Obama’s decision as a “political win” for Cuba, with nothing to gain on the side of the U.S.
Florida Republican and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush also made a statement condemning the President’s decision. Bush claimed that the act surrendered our interests to our adversaries, rather than opposing them.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, commended the decision, pointing out the increased prospects for American businesses as well as reunification of families living in both the U.S. and Cuba.
Officials in the U.S. and Cuba are working on a final resolution towards the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Recent talks ended on May 22 nd, but an agreement has not been announced to date. Press Secretary Josh Earnest, of the White House made a statement on Friday, that progress has been made towards a resolution and an agreement should be forthcoming. Both countries agree that the reopening of embassies on both sides of the ocean would be a positive first step towards stabilizing relations between the countries.