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Biden administration rules out removing Cuban regime from State Sponsor of Terrorism list

The Biden Administration has no plans to remove the Cuban regime from the list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken

March 27, 2023 10:58am

Updated: March 29, 2023 2:21pm

The Biden administration has no plans to remove the Cuban regime from the list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC).

"We are not planning to remove them from the list," said Blinken in response to a direct question from Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar.

During the hearing, titled "The State of U.S. Diplomacy in 2023: Growing Conflicts, Budget Challenges, and Great Power Competition," Salazar asked if Cuba had met the standard to be removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT) list, and Blinken said it had not. 

“If there is to be such a review, it will be based on the law and based on the criteria in the law established by Congress," Blinken said of the matter. "It's a very high bar."

Cuba was included in the SSOT list in 1982, but was removed by the Obama administration in 2015 during a brief stage of rapprochement with the communist regime. It was re-designated as a "sponsor of terrorism" during the Trump administration.

Cuba joined other rogue regimes such as North Korea, Syria, and Iran on SSOT list "because of its long history of providing advice, safe haven, communications, training, and financial support to guerrilla groups and individual terrorists," according to a February 2021 State Department report

Cuban ruler Miguel Díaz-Canel lashed out against the United States, saying that his regime's designation on the list was politics. 

“The Biden administration has maintained Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, but the true purpose of slandering the island as a terrorist is to justify the illegal blockade [embargo] of the United States against Cuba," he said on Twitter.

Before Blinken's confirmation the regime would remain on the SSOT list, several U.S. media outlets, Congressional leaders, and Cuban activists asked the Biden administration not to remove the regime's designation. 

The Biden administration also cited Havana's support for Russia's illegal invasion in Ukraine, another country designated by the EU as a "sponsor of terrorism" and whose leader has been formerly accused by the International Criminal Court of war crimes.