According to the 2011 report by the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterrorism : ”In order 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.”
Iran and Syria are easy to understand, and perhaps even Sudan, not least for providing “lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces, as well as civilians [and] training and arms shipments to the Taliban  in Afghanistan .”
Cuba  was designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982 following two decades of support for revolutionary movements in Africa and Latin America.
But that was then!
Cuba  is retained on the list officially simply because “the Cuban government continues to provide safe haven to several terrorists.”
As the 2011 report states: “Current and former members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty  (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba … One of them, José Ignacio Echarte, is a fugitive from Spanish law and was also believed to have ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia  (FARC)… There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC...[plus]... The Cuban government continued to permit [Black Panther ] 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.”
Sure enough ETA fugitives are present. I had a very scary chance meeting with one in a bar in Santa Clara  about eight years ago. And several former Black Panther and Puerto Rican independence movement fugitives still reside in Cuba.
As to the Black Panthers, although Cuba  has welcomed them for political reasons, there is no current extradition treaty between the USA and Cuba . It’s also worth remembering that many countries (including Australia  and most European countries) will not extradite suspects for crimes of a political nature nor where the death penalty may be imposed on the suspect. I happen to be writing this from Costa Rica , where FBI fugitive Robert Vesco  was able to live safe from extradition for many years. He eventually washed up in Cuba  where, ironically, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison (where he died in 2007) for fraud.
And FARC , the Colombian leftist revolutionary movement?
Well, not only has Cuba  not supported FARC in 20-plus years, just last week Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos  announced that the Cuban government has been hosting secret negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC in an effort to end the decades-long guerrilla war waged by FARC.
The talks in Havana  were apparently brokered by Cuban and Norwegian officials.
So, far from being a sponsor of terrorism, Cuba  is now a broker of peace talks, which are scheduled to commence in Oslo on October 5, 2012.
Surely this further undercuts the flimsy rationale for maintaining Cuba  on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
And how ironic that the day that Santos announced that Cuba  was a neutral ground for peace talks coincided with the Republican convention in Tampa , Florida, where the Party’s stale foreign-policy platform reiterated the old claim: "The anachronistic regime in Havana is a mummified relic of the age of totalitarianism, a state-sponsor of terrorism."
As the Cuba Central Newsblast  (August 31, 2012) correctly noted, there’s a troubling dichotomy when the Obama administration “argues in public that having the FARC in Havana is a cause of keeping Cuba on the terror list, even as Mr. Obama approves in private a peace process brokered in Cuba to have the FARC and Colombia sit together to make peace.”
I say it’s time to take Cuba  off the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
But this is election year, and the extremist Cuban-American lobbyists and other Cold War warriors are having none of it.
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