After President Obama has had an historic meeting with Raúl Castro which unfortunately doesn’t seem to gain enough interest as it should, Barack Obama has now submitted a request to Congress to “rescind Cuba’s state sponsor of terror list designation” which is long overdue!
The terror designation the US has put on Cuba a long time ago has been damaging the country for too long, not to mention that this was one of the biggest reasons the relationship between those two countries never was a friendly one. In Obama’s message to Congress he stated that Cuba "has not provided any support for international terrorism” within the last 6 months.
He also made clear to lawmakers that Cuba "has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future."
The situation with Cuba could very well be compared to the one the US has with Iran.
While the sanctions and deals are different and Cuba doesn’t seem to have as many enemies, both countries, Cuba and Iran, have been suffering under blockades, sanctions and accusations of funding terrorism. What most americans don’t know, is that both countries have great doctors (Cuba is known to have the best healthcare system in the world, and it is FREE) and people! Years of propaganda have blinded many americans and have made them see Cubans and Iranians as enemies while both have similar interests and most importantly are no threat to anybody!
But for now, let us stay focused on the relations with Cuba.
In the late 1800s The United States and Cuba were trading goods. The U.S. was purchasing 87% of Cuba’s exports and also had control over its sugar industry. Havana’s resorts and casinos were very popular destinations for americans and celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Ernest Hemingway and many more. This all changed on the first day of 1959 as revolutionary Fidel Castro had overthrown President Batista who was backed by the US! Castro also made Cuba the first Communist state in the Western Hemisphere. According to cuba-embargo.procon.org, the following years Castro seized $1.8 billion of US assets in Cuba, making it the largest uncompensated taking of American property by a foreign government in US history. In October, 1960, President Eisenhower has ended all diplomatic relations with Cuba and even closed the US embassy in Havana the following year. The rest is History which all americans should know about (hopefully more than just the stuff which is taught in schools).
It was in the year 1982 when Cuba was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
Since then it wasn't easy for americans to travel to Cuba, but even harder for Cubans to visit the U.S., and those are just a few negative aspects of the designation and embargo.
The Associated Press reported that the Unites States is going to reopen an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between both governments. Travel bans, family visits, official U.S. government business and educational activities will all be eased. Unfortunately tourist travel will remain banned for now.
But there are good things happening, for example licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the United States with $400 in Cuban goods which includes tobacco and alcohol worth less than $100 combined. This ends a ban on cigars, which will still be limited.
One great news is that Americans will be allowed to send $500 to $2000 to Cubans every three months. This will improve the lives of many people in both countries.
While the relationship between the United States and Cuba is still under new development, we should remain positive about it and also make sure to hear the views and statements from both sides. It seems as if we are finally moving into the right direction with Cuba, which they truly deserve. Of course some might assume that there is a hidden agenda behind all of this which will only benefit the U.S. government, but as for now all evidence makes it clear that a positive relationship with Cuba will benefit everybody. The Cuban government isn't so easy to manipulate, especially not for the United States. Let us not always search for the bad, let us focus on the positive aspects and hope for the best. And those wondering about people who have asylum in Cuba such as Assata Shakur, Cuba has made it multiple times clear that those will remain safe in Cuba.
The entire 2013 State Department Designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism reads as follows:
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.
Currently there are only three other countries listed as State Sponsors of Terrorism:
Iran (January 19, 1984)
Sudan (August 12, 1993)
Syria (December 29, 1979)
We can also be positive about the future between the United States and Iran, as long as talks between both countries remain positive and both continue to reach agreements.