Will the US take Cuba Off the State Sponsored Terrorism List in 2015?

In March 2015, the U.S. Department of State will publish its annual review of countries it considers to be a State Sponsor of Terrorism.  

With the December 17, 2014 announcement of opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, removing Cuba from the State Sponsored Terrorism List is the next logical step followed by lifting the onerous restrictions of the U.S. Blockade of Cuba.

But logic has not been a part of U.S. geo-political dealings with Cuba.  In reviewing what is available to the public in the State Department’s online annual report “Country Reports on Terrorism,”  (http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/) and its predecessor report “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” for 17 years from 1996 through 2013, the reports reveal more a policy of keeping Cuba on the Terrorism list to satisfy the political interests of the right wing Cuban-American community of southern Florida than terrorist threats to the national security of the United States.

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs commented on the terrorism list,  "Countries that wind up on that list are countries we don't like.  Other countries and outside powers support terrorism, and objectively speaking are terrorists, and the ones we don't like are on the list, and the ones we're allied with are not on the list. It's all about double standards."  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/united-states-outdated-terror-list-20141267333982434.html

To designate a country as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the Secretary of State must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.  Once a country is designated, it remains a State Sponsor of Terrorism until the designation is rescinded in accordance with statutory criteria.  A wide range of sanctions are imposed as a result of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including:

·       A ban on arms-related exports and sales;

·       Controls over exports of dual-use items, requiring 30-day Congressional notification for goods or services that could significantly enhance the terrorist-list country’s military capability or ability to support terrorism;

·       Prohibitions on economic assistance; and

·       Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

In 1982 the Reagan administration placed Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism  as the U.S. began its wars on revolutionary groups that challenged dictatorships in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras—and that Cuba supported.  

Three other countries are currently on the list-Syria (1979), Iran (1984) and Sudan (1993). 

The list began in 1979 with Libya, Iraq, South Yemen and Syria on the initial list.   Cuba was added in 1982, Iran in 1984, North Korea in 1988 and Sudan in 1993.  Iraq was removed in 1982 to allow US companies to sell arms to Iraq while it was fighting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and was put back on the list in 1990 following its invasion of Kuwait.  Iraq was again removed following the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation when the U.S. first suspended sanctions in 2003 and later removed it from the terrorist list in 2004.

Libya was added in 1979 and removed from the list in 2006 due to "...Libya's continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism" according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  North Korea was added to the list in 1988 because it sold weapons to terrorist groups and gave asylum to Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction members.  South Yemen was added to the list in 1979 for its support for several left wind terrorist groups. South Yemen was dropped from the list in 1990 after it merged with the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) to become Yemen.

From 1996 forward (the earlier reports are not online so we have no access to them), the annual reports on State Sponsors of Terrorism state that “Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin American and other parts of the world.”  

But each report repeats in some version the rationale for keeping Cuba on the terrorism list---that “Cuba is a safe haven for several international terrorists, maintains close ties with other state sponsors of terrorism and remains in contact with numerous leftist insurgent groups in Latin America. Cuba also provides safe haven to several non-terrorist US fugitives.”  http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1996Report/overview.html

Yet, the 1997 report acknowledges that Cuba has been a target of terrorist acts. “Cuba suffered from a string of small bombings targeting the island's tourism industry in 1997. At least six bombs detonated at Havana hotels and restaurants in April, July, August, and September. An Italian tourist was killed in one blast in early September, the only fatality of the bombing campaign. On 10 September, Cuban security forces announced they had arrested a Salvadoran citizen who confessed to planting the bombs. Havana charged that US-based groups were responsible for directing the bombing campaign from the United States, but it has repeatedly ignored US requests for evidence to support these charges.” http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1997Report/sponsored.html

The 1999 and 2000 reports reiterate that “Cuba continued to provide safe haven to several terrorists and U.S. fugitives in 1999. A number of Basque ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba some years ago continued to live on the island, as did several U.S. terrorist fugitives…Havana also maintained ties to other state sponsors of terrorism and Latin American insurgents. Colombia's two largest terrorist organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), both maintained a permanent presence on the island. In late 1999, Cuba hosted a series of meetings between Colombian Government officials and ELN leaders. http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1999report/sponsor.html#Cuba

The 2001 report strongly rebukes Fidel Castro’s characterization of the U.S. war on terror after the events of 9/11.  “Since September 11, Fidel Castro has vacillated over the war on terrorism. In October, he labeled the US-led war on terrorism “worse than the original attacks, militaristic, and fascist.” The report continues, “When this tactic earned ostracism rather than praise, he undertook an effort to demonstrate Cuban support for the international campaign against terrorism and signed all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions as well as the Ibero-American declaration on terrorism at the 2001 summit… Although Cuba decided not to protest the detention of suspected terrorists at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, it continued to denounce the global effort against terrorism—even by asserting that the United States was intentionally targeting Afghan children and Red Cross hospitals. Cuba’s signature of UN counterterrorism conventions notwithstanding, Castro continued to view terror as a legitimate revolutionary tactic.”

For the first time, the 2001 report mentions one American by name, “Numerous US fugitives continued to live on the island, including Joanne Chesimard, wanted in the United States for the murder in 1973 of a New Jersey police officer and living as a guest of the Castro regime since 1979.”  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2001/html/10249.htm

The 2002 report acknowledged that in 2001 Cuba signed and ratified all 12 international counterterrorism conventions, but the report emphasizes that Cuba “has remained opposed to the US-led coalition prosecuting the war on global terrorism and has been actively critical of many associated US policies and actions. On repeated occasions, for example, Cuba sent agents to US missions around the world who provided false leads designed to subvert the post-September 11 investigation.”  The 2002 report also noted, “Cuba did not protest the use of the Guantanamo Bay base to house enemy combatants from the conflict in Afghanistan.”  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2002/html/19988.htm

As the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003, the 2003 report describes Cuba’s condemnation of U.S. war policies, particularly that actions by states to destabilize other states as a form of terrorism.  The report stated, “Cuba remained opposed to the US-led coalition prosecuting the global war on terrorism and actively condemned many associated US policies and actions throughout 2003. Government-controlled press reporting about US-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were consistently critical of the United States and frequently and baselessly alleged US involvement in violations of human rights. Government propaganda claimed that those fighting for self-determination or against foreign occupation are exercising internationally recognized rights and cannot be accused of terrorism. Cuba's delegate to the UN said terrorism cannot be defined as including acts by legitimate national liberation movements -- even though many such groups clearly employ tactics that intentionally target innocent civilians to advance their political, religious, or social agendas. In referring to US policy toward Cuba, the delegate asserted, "acts by states to destabilize other states is a form of terrorism."”

For the second time since 1996, the 2003 report mentions American citizen Joanne Chesimard by name, “The Government refuses to return suspected terrorists to countries when it alleges that a receiving government could not provide a fair trial because the charges against the accused are "political." Cuba has publicly used this argument with respect to a number of fugitives from US justice, including Joanne Chesimard, wanted for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973.  Dozens of fugitives from US justice have taken refuge on the island.”

The report does acknowledge cooperation from the Cuban government in some instances, but not in “political” cases.  “In a few cases, the Cuban Government has rendered fugitives from US justice to US authorities. The salient feature of Cuba's behavior in this arena, however, is its refusal to render to US justice any fugitive whose crime is judged by Cuba to be "political."

On the issues of members of “terrorist groups” living in Cuba, the 2003 report also acknowledges that “Havana permitted up to 20 ETA members to reside in Cuba and provided some degree of safehaven and support to members of FARC and the ELN. Bogota was aware of the arrangement and apparently acquiesced; it has publicly indicated that it seeks Cuba's continued mediation with ELN agents in Cuba. A declaration issued by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2003 maintained that the presence of ETA members in Cuba arose from a request for assistance by Spain and Panama and that the issue is a bilateral matter between Cuba and Spain. The declaration similarly defended its assistance to the FARC and the ELN as contributing to a negotiated solution in Colombia.”

With respect to domestic terrorism in Cuba, the report stated that the Cuban government in April 2003 executed three Cubans who attempted to hijack a ferry to the United States. The three were executed under Cuba's 2001 "Law Against Acts of Terrorism." http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2003/31644.htm  

However, the report did not reveal that after three hijacking incidents in three weeks in March, 2003, including the hijacking of the ferry boat, the ranking United States diplomat in Havana, James Cason, warned the Cuban public on Cuban television on April 3, 2003 that Cuban hijackers who reached the United States would be jailed and would never obtain legal residency.  http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/05/world/cuba-arrests-8-in-hijacking-of-havana-ferry.html

In addition to the ferry boat hijacking, on March 30, 2003, a hijacker carrying a fake hand grenade forced a Cuban domestic airliner with 31 people on board to fly to Key West, Fla. A Cuban citizen, Adelmis Wilson González, was charged with air piracy in the case and later convicted in U.S. courts of air piracy and faced life in prison.

A second commercial flight carrying 37 people was hijacked by six men brandishing knives and flown to Florida on March 19. The six were arrested in the United States on charges of conspiracy to seize an aircraft. 

The 2004 report again criticized Cuba’s opposition to the US-led coalition on the global war on terrorism. “Cuba continues to maintain at the UN and other fora that acts by legitimate national liberation movements cannot be defined as terrorism, and has sought to characterize as "legitimate national liberation movements" a number of groups that intentionally target innocent civilians to advance their political, religious, or social agendas. The Cuban Government claims, despite the absence of evidence, that it is a principal victim of terrorism sponsored by Cuban-Americans in the United States. The Cuban Government's actions and public statements run contrary to the spirit of the UN conventions on terrorism that it has signed.”

The report states that “Many of the over seventy fugitives from US justice that have taken refuge on the island are accused of committing violent acts in the Unites States that targeted innocents in order to advance political causes. They include Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973. On a few rare occasions the Cuban government has transferred fugitives to the United States, although it maintains that fugitives would not receive a fair trial in the United States.” http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/45392.htm  (scroll to end of section)

For the first time, the 2005 report said that the Government of Cuba maintains close relationships with other “state sponsors of terrorism” such as Iran and North Korea. 

“Cuba invests heavily in biotechnology, and there is some dispute about the existence and extent of Cuba's offensive biological weapons program. The Cuban Government maintains friendly ties with Iran and North Korea. Cuban Foreign Minister Perez Roque visited Iran on November 13. Earlier in the year, Iran offered Cuba a 20 million euro line of credit, ostensibly for investment in biotechnology. The Cuba-Iran Joint Commission met in Havana in January. Cuba and North Korea held military talks at the general staff level in May in Pyongyang. The North Korean trade minister visited Havana in November and signed a protocol for cooperation in the areas of science and trade.”

Three years later North Korea was taken off the state sponsors of terrorism list in 2008 when it initially complied with talks for the country to denuclearize in exchange for normalization of international relations.  http://www.ibtimes.com/will-north-korea-return-us-terror-list-move-could-prompt-military-action-pyongyang-1773536

The 2005 report mentions for the first time the arrest in the U.S. of the Cuban Five and also mentions the accused airliner bomber Luis Posada Carriles who was living in the U.S.  “The U.S. Government periodically requests the Government of Cuba to return wanted fugitives to the United States. Cuba continues to be non-responsive. On the other hand, the Cuban regime publicly demanded the return to Cuba of five of its agents convicted of espionage in the United States. The Cuban Government refers to these individuals as heroes in the fight against terrorism. The five are variously accused of being foreign intelligence agents and infiltrating U.S. military facilities. One is accused of conspiracy to murder for his role in the Cuban Air Force's shooting down of two small civilian planes. Cuba has stated that it will no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives who may enter Cuba.”

“Cuba did not extradite suspected terrorists during the year, but demanded that the United States surrender to Cuba Luis Posada Carriles, whom it accuses of plotting to kill Castro and bombing a Cubana Airlines plane in 1976, which resulted in more than 70 deaths. Posada Carriles remains in U.S. custody. Cuba has also asked the United States to return three Cuban-Americans implicated in the same cases.”  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2005/64337.htm

The 2006 report continues to mention the Cuban Five and elaborates on the actions of Luis Posada Carriles:  “The Cuban regime publicly demanded the return to Cuba of five of its agents convicted of espionage in the United States. The five were variously accused of being foreign intelligence agents and infiltrating U.S. military facilities, but the Cuban government continued to refer to these individuals as heroes in the fight against terrorism. One was accused of conspiracy to murder for his role in the Cuban Air Force's shooting down of two small civilian planes. Cuba has stated, however, that it will no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives who may enter Cuba  Footnotes in the report state, “U.S. fugitives range from convicted murderers, two of whom killed police officers, to numerous hijackers. Most of those fugitives entered Cuba in the 1970s. In previous years, the Government of Cuba responded to requests to extradite U.S. fugitives by stating that approval would be contingent upon the U.S. returning wanted Cuban criminals.”

“Although Cuba did not extradite suspected terrorists during the year, the government demanded that the United States surrender Luis Posada Carriles, whom it accused of plotting to kill Castro and bombing a Cubana Airlines plane in 1976, which resulted in more than 70 deaths. Posada Carriles remained in U.S. custody. Cuba also asked the United States to return three Cuban-Americans implicated in the same cases.”

A second footnote revealed cooperation of the Cuban government on an American who stole an airplane and took his son without authority,  “During September, a U.S. fugitive sequestered his son, stole a plane at a local airport in the Florida Keys, and landed illegally in Varadero, east of Havana. American Interests Section efforts resulted in a visit to the male individual and his son in Varadero. After several meetings between the aforementioned USINT Offices and Cuban government officials, the son was returned in October to his mother in Mexico, who had legal custody. Simultaneously, the father was returned to the United States via charter flight to Miami, where he is being prosecuted. The stolen private plane was later returned to the United States. This was the first instance in which the Cuban government permitted the return of a fugitive from U.S. justice.”  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2006/82736.htm

The 2007 report noted that Cuba would not provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives entering Cuba.  “The Cuban government returned one American citizen fugitive when that person sailed his boat into Cuban waters and it was determined that he was wanted on fraud charges in the state of Utah…The Cuban government stated in 2006 that it would no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives entering Cuba.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2007/103711.htm

The 2008 report stated that “former Cuban President Fidel Castro called on the FARC to release the hostages they were holding without preconditions. He has also condemned the FARC's mistreatment of captives and of their abduction of civilian politicians who had no role in the armed conflict….The United States has no evidence of terrorist-related money laundering or terrorist financing activities in Cuba, although Cuba has one of the world’s most secretive and non-transparent national banking systems. Cuba has no financial intelligence unit. Cuba’s Law 93 Against Acts of Terrorism provides the government authority to track, block, or seize terrorist assets…The Cuban government continued to permit some U.S. fugitives—including members of U.S. militant groups such as the Boricua Popular, or Macheteros, and the Black Liberation Army to live legally in Cuba. ..In keeping with its public declaration, the government has not provided safe haven to any new U.S. fugitives wanted for terrorism since 2006.” http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2008/122436.htm

In 2009, the report acknowledged that the Cuban government and official media publicly condemned acts of terrorism by al-Qa’ida and affiliates, while at the same time remaining critical of the U.S. approach to combating international terrorism. “Cuba cooperated with the United States on a limited number of law enforcement matters. However, the Cuban government continued to permit U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba. These U.S. fugitives include convicted murderers as well as numerous hijackers. Cuba permitted one such fugitive, hijacker Luis Armando Peña Soltren, to voluntarily depart Cuba; Peña Soltren was arrested upon his arrival in the United States in October.”  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2009/140889.htm

In 2010, the report mentions Cuban cooperation with the US Transportation Authority but complains that Cuba is still critical of U.S. war policies.   “Cuba continued to denounce U.S. counterterrorism efforts throughout the world, portraying them as a pretext to extend U.S. influence and power…Cuba has been used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United State. The Government of Cuba is aware of the border integrity and transnational security concerns posed by such transit and investigated third country migrant smuggling and related criminal activities. In November, the government allowed representatives of the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island…The Cuban government continued to aggressively pursue persons suspected of terrorist acts in Cuba. In July, Venezuela extradited Salvadoran national Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca to Cuba for his alleged role in a number of hotel and tourist location bombings in the mid to late 1990s. In December, a Cuban court convicted Chavez Abarca on terrorism charges and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Also in December, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of two Salvadorans, René Cruz León and Otto René Rodríguez Llerena, who had been convicted of terrorism, and sentenced them both to 30 years.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2010/170260.htm

The 2011 report noted that “three suspected ETA members were arrested in Venezuela and deported back to Cuba in September 2011 after sailing from Cuba. One of them, Jose Ignacio Echarte, is a fugitive from Spanish law and was also believed to have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Reports suggested that the Cuban government was trying to distance itself from ETA members living on the island by employing tactics such as not providing services including travel documents to some of them. Press reporting indicated that the Cuban government provided medical care and political assistance to the FARC. There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2011/195547.htm

The 2012 report acknowledged that Cuba was hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Government of Colombia and that Cuba had adopted policies to prevent money laundering. The Government of Cuba continued to provide safe haven to approximately two dozen ETA members and some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were allowed safe haven in Cuba and safe passage through Cuba. However, in November, 2012, the Government of Cuba began hosting peace talks between the FARC and Government of Colombia…The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has identified Cuba as having strategic anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism deficiencies. But the report noted that in 2012, Cuba became a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. With this action, Cuba has committed to adopting and implementing the FATF Recommendations. “ http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/209985.htm

The 2013 report noted that  “Cuba’s ties to ETA have become more distant, and that about eight of the two dozen ETA members in Cuba were relocated with the cooperation of the Spanish government.  Throughout 2013, the Government of Cuba supported and hosted negotiations between the FARC and the Government of Colombia aimed at brokering a peace agreement between the two.  The Government of Cuba has facilitated the travel of FARC representatives to Cuba to participate in these negotiations, in coordination with representatives of the Governments of Colombia, Venezuela, and Norway, as well as the Red Cross.”  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224826.htm

The U.S. report did NOT say that suddenly on May 2, 2013, 36 years after she was convicted in New Jersey and 29 years after she arrived in Cuba, the FBI placed Joanne Chesimard or Assata Shakur on its  “Most Wanted Terrorist List,” the first woman placed on that list according to the FBI press release. The FBI offered a $1 million reward for her capture and the State of New Jersey offered an additional $1 million.  http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2013/may/joanne-chesimard-first-woman-named-most-wanted-terrorists-list/joanne-chesimard-first-woman-named-to-most-wanted-terrorists-list

The 2014 State Sponsors of Terrorism report will be released in March 2015.  With the December 17, 2014 announcement of opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, the political rationale for keeping Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism is eliminated, unless the powerful Cuban-American politicos of Florida and New Jersey are successful in holding hostage the new U.S. policy toward Cuba.

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and is a retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel.  She served 16 years in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War.  She has travelled to Cuba three times, including a trip to the back fence of the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base to protest U.S. torture and imprisonment without due process of over 800 prisoners in the “war on terror.”



Following is the Cuba section from each annual report on State Sponsors of Terrorism for those who wish to read it in its entirety.

CUBA-2013

Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982.  

Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  Reports continued to indicate that Cuba’s ties to ETA have become more distant, and that about eight of the two dozen ETA members in Cuba were relocated with the cooperation of the Spanish government.  Throughout 2013, the Government of Cuba supported and hosted negotiations between the FARC and the Government of Colombia aimed at brokering a peace agreement between the two.  The Government of Cuba has facilitated the travel of FARC representatives to Cuba to participate in these negotiations, in coordination with representatives of the Governments of Colombia, Venezuela, and Norway, as well as the Red Cross.   

There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.

The Cuban government continued to harbor fugitives wanted in the United States.  The Cuban government also provided support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these individuals.

http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224826.htm

 

CUBA-2012

Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982. Reports in 2012 suggested that the Cuban government was trying to distance itself from Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) members living on the island by employing tactics such as not providing services including travel documents to some of them. The Government of Cuba continued to provide safe haven to approximately two dozen ETA members.

In past years, some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were allowed safe haven in Cuba and safe passage through Cuba. In November, the Government of Cuba began hosting peace talks between the FARC and Government of Colombia.

There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.

The Cuban government continued to harbor fugitives wanted in the United States. The Cuban government also provided support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these individuals.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has identified Cuba as having strategic anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism deficiencies. In 2012, Cuba became a member of the Financial Action Task Force of South America against Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. With this action, Cuba has committed to adopting and implementing the FATF Recommendations.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/209985.htm

 

CUBA-2011

Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982. Current and former members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Three suspected ETA members were arrested in Venezuela and deported back to Cuba in September 2011 after sailing from Cuba. One of them, Jose Ignacio Echarte, is a fugitive from Spanish law and was also believed to have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Reports suggested that the Cuban government was trying to distance itself from ETA members living on the island by employing tactics such as not providing services including travel documents to some of them. Press reporting indicated that the Cuban government provided medical care and political assistance to the FARC. There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC.

The Cuban government continued to permit fugitives wanted in the United States to reside in Cuba and also provided support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these individuals.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has identified Cuba as having strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.  Despite sustained and consistent overtures, Cuba has refused to substantively engage directly with the FATF.  It has not committed to FATF standards and it is not a member of a FATF-style regional body, although in 2011 it did attend a Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America meeting as a guest and prepared an informal document describing its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist financing system.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2011/195547.htm

CUBA - 2010

Overview: Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982, the Government of Cuba 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 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 has been used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United State. The Government of Cuba is aware of the border integrity and transnational security concerns posed by such transit and investigated third country migrant smuggling and related criminal activities. In November, the government allowed representatives of the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Cuba did not pass new counterterrorism legislation in 2010. The Cuban government continued to aggressively pursue persons suspected of terrorist acts in Cuba. In July, Venezuela extradited Salvadoran national Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca to Cuba for his alleged role in a number of hotel and tourist location bombings in the mid to late 1990s. In December, a Cuban court convicted Chavez Abarca on terrorism charges and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Also in December, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of two Salvadorans, René Cruz León and Otto René Rodríguez Llerena, who had been convicted of terrorism, and sentenced them both to 30 years.

Regional and International Cooperation: Cuba did not sponsor counterterrorism initiatives or participate in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2010/170260.htm

CUBA-2009

The Cuban government and official media publicly condemned acts of terrorism by al-Qa’ida and affiliates, while at the same time remaining critical of the U.S. approach to combating international terrorism. Although Cuba no longer supports armed struggle in Latin America and other parts of the world, the Government of Cuba continued to provide physical safe haven and ideological support to members of three terrorist organizations that are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the United States.


The Government of Cuba has long assisted members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN), and Spain’s Basque Homeland and Freedom Organization (ETA), some having arrived in Cuba in connection with peace negotiations with the governments of Colombia and Spain. There was no evidence of direct financial support for terrorist organizations by Cuba in 2009, though it continued to provide safe haven to members of the FARC, ELN, and ETA, providing them with living, logistical, and medical support.

Cuba cooperated with the United States on a limited number of law enforcement matters. However, the Cuban government continued to permit U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba. These U.S. fugitives include convicted murderers as well as numerous hijackers. Cuba permitted one such fugitive, hijacker Luis Armando Peña Soltren, to voluntarily depart Cuba; Peña Soltren was arrested upon his arrival in the United States in October.

Cuba’s Immigration Department refurbished the passenger inspection area at Jose Marti International Airport and provided new software and biometric readers to its Border Guards.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2009/140889.htm

CUBA-2008

Although Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin America and other parts of the world, the Cuban government continued to provide safe haven to several terrorists. Members of ETA, the FARC, and the ELN remained in Cuba during 2008, some having arrived in Cuba in connection with peace negotiations with the governments of Spain and Colombia. Cuban authorities continued to publicly defend the FARC. However, on July 6, 2008, former Cuban President Fidel Castro called on the FARC to release the hostages they were holding without preconditions. He has also condemned the FARC's mistreatment of captives and of their abduction of civilian politicians who had no role in the armed conflict.

The United States has no evidence of terrorist-related money laundering or terrorist financing activities in Cuba, although Cuba has one of the world’s most secretive and non-transparent national banking systems. Cuba has no financial intelligence unit. Cuba’s Law 93 Against Acts of Terrorism provides the government authority to track, block, or seize terrorist assets.

The Cuban government continued to permit some U.S. fugitives—including members of U.S. militant groups such as the Boricua Popular, or Macheteros, and the Black Liberation Army to live legally in Cuba. In keeping with its public declaration, the government has not provided safe haven to any new U.S. fugitives wanted for terrorism since 2006.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2008/122436.htm

CUBA-2007

The Government of Cuba remained opposed to U.S. counterterrorism policy, and actively and publicly condemned many associated U.S. policies and actions. To U.S. knowledge, the Cuban government did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba’s Law 93 Against Acts of Terrorism, as well as Instruction 19 of the Superintendent of the Cuban Central Bank. No new counterterrorism laws were enacted, nor were any executive orders or regulations issued in this regard. The Government of Cuba provided safe haven to members of ETA, the FARC, and the ELN. It maintained close relationships with other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Syria.

The Cuban government continued to permit more than 70 U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba and refused almost all U.S. requests for their return. These U.S. fugitives include convicted murderers (two of them killed police officers) as well as numerous hijackers, most of whom entered Cuba in the 1970s. The government returned one American citizen fugitive when that person sailed his boat into Cuban waters and it was determined that he was wanted on fraud charges in the state of Utah. The Cuban government stated in 2006 that it would no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives entering Cuba.

The Cuban government did not extradite suspected terrorists during the year.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2007/103711.htm

Cuba - 2006


Cuba continued to publicly oppose the U.S.-led Coalition prosecuting the War on Terror. To U.S. knowledge, Cuba did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba's Law 93 against Acts of Terrorism, as well as Instruction 19 of the Superintendent of the Cuban Central Bank. No new counterterrorism laws were enacted, nor were any executive orders or regulations issued in this regard. To date, the Cuban government had not undertaken any counterterrorism efforts in international and regional fora or taken action against any designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The Government of Cuba provided safe haven to members of ETA, FARC, and the ELN, and maintained close relationships with other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran. The Cuba-Iran Joint Commission met in Havana in January.

The Cuban government continued to permit U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba and is unlikely to satisfy U.S. extradition requests for terrorists harbored in the country. The United States periodically requested that the government return wanted fugitives1, and Cuba continued to be non-responsive. The Cuban regime publicly demanded the return to Cuba of five of its agents convicted of espionage in the United States. The five were variously accused of being foreign intelligence agents and infiltrating U.S. military facilities, but the Cuban government continued to refer to these individuals as heroes in the fight against terrorism. One was accused of conspiracy to murder for his role in the Cuban Air Force's shooting down of two small civilian planes. Cuba has stated, however, that it will no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives who may enter Cuba.2

Although Cuba did not extradite suspected terrorists during the year, the government demanded that the United States surrender Luis Posada Carriles, whom it accused of plotting to kill Castro and bombing a Cubana Airlines plane in 1976, which resulted in more than 70 deaths. Posada Carriles remained in U.S. custody. Cuba also asked the United States to return three Cuban-Americans implicated in the same cases.



1 U.S. fugitives range from convicted murderers, two of whom killed police officers, to numerous hijackers. Most of those fugitives entered Cuba in the 1970s. In previous years, the Government of Cuba responded to requests to extradite U.S. fugitives by stating that approval would be contingent upon the U.S. returning wanted Cuban criminals.

2 During September, a U.S. fugitive sequestered his son, stole a plane at a local airport in the Florida Keys, and landed illegally in Varadero, east of Havana. American Interests Section efforts resulted in a visit to the male individual and his son in Varadero. After several meetings between the aforementioned USINT Offices and Cuban government officials, the son was returned in October to his mother in Mexico, who had legal custody. Simultaneously, the father was returned to the United States via charter flight to Miami, where he is being prosecuted. The stolen private plane was later returned to the United States. This was the first instance in which the Cuban government permitted the return of a fugitive from U.S. justice.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2006/82736.htm

Cuba - 2005

Cuba actively continued to oppose the U.S.-led Coalition prosecuting the global war on terror and has publicly condemned various U.S. policies and actions. To U.S. knowledge, Cuba did not attempt to track, block, or seize terrorist assets, although the authority to do so is contained in Cuba's Law 93 Against Acts of Terrorism, as well as Instruction 19 of the Superintendent of the Cuban Central Bank. No new counterterrorism laws were enacted, nor were any executive orders or regulations issued in this regard. To date, the Cuban Government has taken no action against al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

Cuba did not undertake any counterterrorism efforts in international and regional fora. Official government statements and the government-controlled press rarely speak out against al-Qaida or other designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Cuba invests heavily in biotechnology, and there is some dispute about the existence and extent of Cuba's offensive biological weapons program. The Cuban Government maintains friendly ties with Iran and North Korea. Cuban Foreign Minister Perez Roque visited Iran on November 13. Earlier in the year, Iran offered Cuba a 20 million euro line of credit, ostensibly for investment in biotechnology. The Cuba-Iran Joint Commission met in Havana in January. Cuba and North Korea held military talks at the general staff level in May in Pyongyang. The North Korean trade minister visited Havana in November and signed a protocol for cooperation in the areas of science and trade.

The Cuban Government continues to permit U.S. fugitives to live legally in Cuba, and is unlikely to satisfy U.S. extradition requests for terrorists harbored in the country. In previous years, the government responded to requests to extradite U.S. fugitives by stating that approval would be contingent upon the U.S. returning wanted Cuban criminals. U.S. fugitives range from convicted murderers, two of whom killed police officers, to numerous hijackers. Most of those fugitives entered Cuba in the 1970s.

The U.S. Government periodically requests the Government of Cuba to return wanted fugitives to the United States. Cuba continues to be non-responsive. On the other hand, the Cuban regime publicly demanded the return to Cuba of five of its agents convicted of espionage in the United States. The Cuban Government refers to these individuals as heroes in the fight against terrorism. The five are variously accused of being foreign intelligence agents and infiltrating U.S. military facilities. One is accused of conspiracy to murder for his role in the Cuban Air Force's shooting down of two small civilian planes. Cuba has stated that it will no longer provide safe haven to new U.S. fugitives who may enter Cuba.

Cuba did not extradite suspected terrorists during the year, but demanded that the United States surrender to Cuba Luis Posada Carriles, whom it accuses of plotting to kill Castro and bombing a Cubana Airlines plane in 1976, which resulted in more than 70 deaths. Posada Carriles remains in U.S. custody. Cuba has also asked the United States to return three Cuban-Americans implicated in the same cases.

The Government of Cuba maintains close relationships with other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and North Korea, and has provided safe haven to members of ETA, FARC, and the ELN. There is no information concerning terrorist activities of these or other organizations on Cuban territory. Press reports indicate that U.S. fugitives from justice and ETA members are living legally in Cuba. The United States is not aware of specific terrorist enclaves in the country.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2005/64337.htm

Cuba - 2004

Throughout 2004, Cuba continued to actively oppose the US-led coalition prosecuting the global war on terrorism. Cuba continues to maintain at the UN and other fora that acts by legitimate national liberation movements cannot be defined as terrorism, and has sought to characterize as "legitimate national liberation movements" a number of groups that intentionally target innocent civilians to advance their political, religious, or social agendas. The Cuban Government claims, despite the absence of evidence, that it is a principal victim of terrorism sponsored by Cuban-Americans in the United States. The Cuban Government's actions and public statements run contrary to the spirit of the UN conventions on terrorism that it has signed.

In 2004, Cuba continued to provide limited support to designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as well as safehaven for terrorists. The Cuban Government refuses to turn over suspected terrorists to countries that have charged them with terrorist acts, alleging that the receiving government would not provide a fair trial on charges that are "political." Havana permitted various ETA members to reside in Cuba, despite a November 2003 public request from the Spanish Government to deny them sanctuary, and provided safehaven and some degree of support to members of the Colombian FARC and ELN guerilla groups.

Many of the over seventy fugitives from US justice that have taken refuge on the island are accused of committing violent acts in the Unites States that targeted innocents in order to advance political causes. They include Joanne Chesimard, who is wanted for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973. On a few rare occasions the Cuban government has transferred fugitives to the United States, although it maintains that fugitives would not receive a fair trial in the United States.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/45392.htm  (scroll to end of section)

Cuba – 2003

Cuba remained opposed to the US-led Coalition prosecuting the global war on terrorism and actively condemned many associated US policies and actions throughout 2003. Government-controlled press reporting about US-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were consistently critical of the United States and frequently and baselessly alleged US involvement in violations of human rights. Government propaganda claimed that those fighting for self-determination or against foreign occupation are exercising internationally recognized rights and cannot be accused of terrorism. Cuba's delegate to the UN said terrorism cannot be defined as including acts by legitimate national liberation movements -- even though many such groups clearly employ tactics that intentionally target innocent civilians to advance their political, religious, or social agendas. In referring to US policy toward Cuba, the delegate asserted, "acts by states to destabilize other states is a form of terrorism."

The Cuban Government did not extradite nor request the extradition of suspected terrorists in 2003. Cuba continued to provide support to designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as well as to host several terrorists and dozens of fugitives from US justice. The Government refuses to return suspected terrorists to countries when it alleges that a receiving government could not provide a fair trial because the charges against the accused are "political." Cuba has publicly used this argument with respect to a number of fugitives from US justice, including Joanne Chesimard, wanted for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973. Havana permitted up to 20 ETA members to reside in Cuba and provided some degree of safehaven and support to members of FARC and the ELN. Bogota was aware of the arrangement and apparently acquiesced; it has publicly indicated that it seeks Cuba's continued mediation with ELN agents in Cuba. A declaration issued by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2003 maintained that the presence of ETA members in Cuba arose from a request for assistance by Spain and Panama and that the issue is a bilateral matter between Cuba and Spain. The declaration similarly defended its assistance to the FARC and the ELN as contributing to a negotiated solution in Colombia.

Dozens of fugitives from US justice have taken refuge on the island. In a few cases, the Cuban Government has rendered fugitives from US justice to US authorities. The salient feature of Cuba's behavior in this arena, however, is its refusal to render to US justice any fugitive whose crime is judged by Cuba to be "political."

With respect to domestic terrorism, the Government in April 2003 executed three Cubans who attempted to hijack a ferry to the United States. The three were executed under Cuba's 2001 "Law Against Acts of Terrorism."

Cuba became a party to all 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism in 2001.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2003/31644.htm

Cuba - 2002

Although Cuba signed and ratified all 12 international counterterrorism conventions in 2001, it has remained opposed to the US-led Coalition prosecuting the war on global terrorism and has been actively critical of many associated US policies and actions. On repeated occasions, for example, Cuba sent agents to US missions around the world who provided false leads designed to subvert the post-September 11 investigation. Cuba did not protest the use of the Guantanamo Bay base to house enemy combatants from the conflict in Afghanistan.

In 2002, Cuba continued to host several terrorists and US fugitives. Havana permitted up to 20 Basque Fatherland and Liberty members to reside in Cuba and provided some degree of safehaven and support to members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) groups. Bogota was aware of the arrangement and apparently acquiesced; it has publicly indicated that it seeks Cuba's continued mediation with ELN agents in Cuba.

An accused Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons expert and longtime resident of Havana went on trial in Colombia in 2002. He had been caught a year earlier in Colombia with two other IRA members and detained for allegedly training the FARC in advanced use of explosives. Some US fugitives continued to live on the island.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2002/html/19988.htm

Cuba - 2001

Cuba Since September 11, Fidel Castro has vacillated over the war on terrorism. In October, he labeled the US-led war on terrorism “worse than the original attacks, militaristic, and fascist.” When this tactic earned ostracism rather than praise, he undertook an effort to demonstrate Cuban support for the international campaign against terrorism and signed all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions as well as the Ibero-American declaration on terrorism at the 2001 summit. Although Cuba decided not to protest the detention of suspected terrorists at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, it continued to denounce the global effort against terrorism—even by asserting that the United States was intentionally targeting Afghan children and Red Cross hospitals. 

 

Cuba’s signature of UN counterterrorism conventions notwithstanding, Castro continued to view terror as a legitimate revolutionary tactic. The Cuban Government continued to allow at least 20 Basque ETA members to reside in Cuba as privileged guests and provided some degree of safehaven and support to members of the Colombian FARC and ELN groups. In August, a Cuban spokesman revealed that Sinn Fein’s official repre sentative for Cuba and Latin America, Niall Connolly, who was one of three Irish Republican Army members arrested in Colombia on suspicion of providing explosives training to the FARC, had been based in Cuba for five years. In addition, the recent arrest in Brazil of the leader of a Chilean terrorist group, the Frente Patriotico Manuel Rodriguez (FPMR), has raised the strong possibility that in the mid-1990s, the Cuban Government harbored FPMR terrorists wanted for murder in Chile. The arrested terrorist told Brazilian authorities he had traveled through Cuba on his way to Brazil. Chilean investigators had traced calls from FPMR relatives in Chile to Cuba following an FPMR prison break in 1996, but the Cuban Government twice denied extradition requests, claiming that the wanted persons were not in Cuba and the phone numbers were incorrect.

 

Numerous US fugitives continued to live on the island, including Joanne Chesimard, wanted in the United States for the murder in 1973 of a New Jersey police officer and living as a guest of the Castro regime since 1979.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2001/html/10249.htm

Cuba – 2000

Cuba continued to provide safehaven to several terrorists and US fugitives in 2000. A number of Basque ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba some years ago continued to live on the island, as did several US terrorist fugitives.

Havana also maintained ties to other state sponsors of terrorism and Latin American insurgents. Colombia's two largest terrorist organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army, both maintained a permanent presence on the island.  http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2000/2441.htm

Cuba – 1999

Cuba continued to provide safehaven to several terrorists and U.S. fugitives in 1999. A number of Basque ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba some years ago continued to live on the island, as did several U.S. terrorist fugitives.

Havana also maintained ties to other state sponsors of terrorism and Latin American insurgents. Colombia's two largest terrorist organizations, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), both maintained a permanent presence on the island. In late 1999, Cuba hosted a series of meetings between Colombian Government officials and ELN leaders.  http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1999report/sponsor.html#Cuba

Cuba – 1998

Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin America or elsewhere. Previously, the Castro regime provided significant levels of funding, military training, arms, and guidance to various revolutionary groups across the globe. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Havana has been forced to reduce dramatically its support to leftist revolutionaries.

Cuba, nonetheless, continues to maintain close ties to other state sponsors of terrorism and leftist insurgent groups in Latin America. For instance, Colombia's two main terrorist groups, the FARC and the ELN, maintain representatives in Cuba. Moreover, Havana continues to provide safehaven to a number of international terrorists and US terrorist fugitives.  http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1998Report/sponsor.html#cuba

Cuba - 1997

Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin America and other parts of the world. In the past, the Castro regime provided significant levels of funding, military training, arms, and guidance to various revolutionary groups across the globe. However, with the collapse of its prime sponsor--the Soviet Union--in 1989, Cuba suffered a severe economic decline. Without ready cash, Havana was forced to scale back severely its already waning support to international terrorists. To make up for this economic shortfall, the Castro government's focus in recent years has been on generating revenue through tourism. Cuba's attempts to encourage foreign investment in the hospitality industry has forced the nation to seek upgraded diplomatic and trade relations with other nations.

Although Cuba is not known to have sponsored any international terrorist incidents in 1997, it continued to give safehaven to several terrorists during the year. A number of ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba some years ago continue to live on the island. In addition, members of a few Latin American-based international terrorist organizations and US fugitives also reside in Cuba.

Cuba also maintains close ties to other state sponsors of terrorism and remains in contact with leftist insurgent groups in Latin America. For instance, Colombia's two main terrorist groups, the FARC and the ELN, reportedly maintain representatives in Havana.

Cuba suffered from a string of small bombings targeting the island's tourism industry in 1997. At least six bombs detonated at Havana hotels and restaurants in April, July, August, and September. An Italian tourist was killed in one blast in early September, the only fatality of the bombing campaign. On 10 September, Cuban security forces announced they had arrested a Salvadoran citizen who confessed to planting the bombs. Havana charged that US-based groups were responsible for directing the bombing campaign from the United States, but it has repeatedly ignored US requests for evidence to support these charges.  http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1997Report/sponsored.html

Cuba - 1996

Cuba no longer actively supports armed struggle in Latin America and other parts of the world. In earlier years the Castro regime provided significant levels of military training, weapons, funding, and guidance to numerous leftist extremists. Havana's focus now is to forestall an economic collapse; the government actively continued to seek the upgrading of diplomatic and trade relations with other nations.

Although there is no current evidence that Cuban officials were directly involved in sponsoring specific acts of terrorism last year, Cuba is still a safehaven for several international terrorists, maintains close relations with other state sponsors of terrorism, and remains in contact with numerous leftist insurgent groups in Latin America.

A number of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorists who sought sanctuary in Cuba several years ago continue to live on the island. Some of the more than 40 Chilean terrorists from the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) who escaped from a Chilean prison in 1990 also probably still reside in Cuba. Colombia's two main guerrilla groups, the revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), reportedly maintain representatives in Havana.

Cuba also provides safehaven to several nonterrorist US fugitives.  http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1996Report/overview.html

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