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    5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation

    5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation
    Mauricio Claver-Carone – Director, Cuba Democracy Advocates in
    Washington, D.C.
    Posted: 03/19/2015 1:14 pm EDT Updated: 03/19/2015 1:59 pm EDT

    Cuba’s Raul Castro regime has made it clear in recent weeks that
    “normalizing” relations with the United States hinges on removing the
    designation of that island nation from the U.S. list of “state-sponsors
    of terrorism.” Iran, Sudan and Syria are the only other nations
    currently on the list, which is compiled by the State Department.

    Last December, as President Obama announced his intent to re-establish
    formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, he also publicly instructed
    Secretary of State John Kerry to review Cuba’s status. The review, the
    President added, should be “guided by the facts and the law.” In the
    weeks since, there have been reports of the White House pressuring the
    State Department and intelligence community to accelerate the review so
    that the President and Castro can shake hands at the April “Summit of
    the Americas” in Panama City.

    That provokes serious concerns about whether the review is, indeed,
    being “guided by the facts and the law” or become the veneer covering
    additional concessions that the Obama Administration agreed to during
    18-months of secret negotiations with Castro’s regime. We don’t know
    what those were. We do know that before taking Cuba off the list of
    state sponsors of terrorism, statutory criteria must be satisfied and
    that actions by Raul Castro’s regime make it unlikely they can be met.

    Under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act (as currently
    re-authorized under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act),
    the President must submit a report to Congress, 45-days before
    terminating the designation, that certifies the Cuban government has not
    provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding
    six months and has made assurances to the United States that it will not
    support terrorist acts in the future.

    To be based on “the law and the facts,” the following five facts about
    Castro’s regime must be reconciled with the law:

    • Cuba is providing sanctuary to U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist
    Organizations. It’s indisputable that Cuba currently provides sanctuary
    to terrorists from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),
    the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN) and Spain’s Basque
    separatist group, ETA. If the Obama Administration no longer believes
    FARC, ELN and ETA are terrorist organizations, which would be
    mind-boggling, then the State Department must first review their
    designation as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).” De-listing Cuba
    as a state-sponsor of terrorism while countenancing its harboring and
    abetting of terrorist organizations is disingenuous, a folly akin to
    placing the cart before the horse.

    • Cuba is harboring one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Terrorists.”
    Joanne Chesimard remains among the top ten on the FBI’s list of Most
    Wanted Terrorists for the execution-style murder of a New Jersey State
    Trooper. Chesimard, who the Castro regime has reiterated will not be
    returned to face justice, is the only “Top Ten” terrorist to be openly
    living in a state-sponsor nation. Again, if the Obama Administration no
    longer believes that Chesimard is a terrorist — also mind-boggling —
    it should first remove her from the FBI list.

    • Three senior Cuban military officers remain under a U.S. murder
    indictment. In 2003, a U.S. federal court indicted then-head of the
    Cuban Air Force, Gen. Rubén Martínez Puente, and two MiG pilots, Lorenzo
    Alberto Pérez-Pérez and Francisco Pérez-Pérez, for the 1996 shoot-down
    of two civilian planes — killing four men — over international waters.
    Three were American citizens, and one a permanent resident. No similar
    indictment has been issued against any military officials of other
    nations deemed to be sponsors of terrorism.

    Emphasizing this challenge, last month President Obama extended a
    national emergency declaration finding that “the Cuban government has
    not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force
    against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities
    or peaceful protest north of Cuba.”

    • Cuba provides material support to subversive and criminal elements in
    the region. Cuba was originally placed on the terrorism list in 1982 for
    its training and arming of subversive forces in Africa and the Americas.
    Today, thousands of Cuban soldiers and intelligence officials are
    stationed in Venezuela. Their presence and control of Venezuela’s
    military, police, and intelligence services is subverting democracy in
    that nation. Cuba has armed and trained violent paramilitary groups,
    known as “colectivos,” and remains involved in narcotics trafficking and
    other criminal activities.

    • Cuba has recently lied twice to the international community about
    smuggling weapons. In a report last year, United Nations officials
    confirmed Cuba’s attempt to smuggle 240 tons of heavy weaponry to North
    Korea, hidden under tons of sugar. Panamanian officials discovered the
    contraband that the U.N. panel described as the largest and most
    egregious violation of international sanctions to date. The panel
    documented the Castro regime’s lack of cooperation, false statements and
    strategy to conceal and deceive U.N. authorities. And just last week, a
    Chinese-flagged ship was intercepted in Colombia carrying an illegal
    cache of weapons destined for Cuba’s military. Thus, what credible
    “assurances” — as required by law — can the Castro regime give the
    United States that it will now refrain from rogue activities?

    The Obama-Castro deal has been subject to a great deal of criticism for
    lifting trade and travel restrictions without extracting any political
    or economic reforms from Cuba’s dictatorship. American aid worker Alan
    Gross was allowed to return home, but Castro had seized him as a hostage
    to coerce U.S. concessions. To sidestep clear legal impediments to
    remove Cuba from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, however,
    goes beyond political embarrassment. It would be an irreparable blow to
    the credibility of the Administration’s foreign-policy leadership.

    Follow Mauricio Claver-Carone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@capitolcubans

    Source: 5 Facts Obama Must Reconcile on Cuba’s Terrorism Designation |
    Mauricio Claver-Carone –
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mauricio-clavercarone/five-facts-obama-must-rec_b_6839652.html