US designates Cuba as a “sponsor of terrorism”

Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez Padilla criticized the move and called it hypocritical and cynical

January 12, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
On Monday January 11, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has put Cuba back on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Photo: Secretary State Twitter

The United States announced on Monday January 11 that it will designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. The announcement has been met by widespread condemnation by authorities within Cuba and political leaders and movements worldwide.

Foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla wrote on Twitter, “We condemn the hypocritical and cynical announcement by the US to designate Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism. The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”

The move comes a day after the announcement that the Yemeni militant group Ansar Allah, commonly known as the Houthis, would be designated as a “foreign terrorist organization.

Cuba had been on the list of countries that sponsors state terrorism until 2015 when the normalization process between the US and Cuba was at its peak under former US President Barack Obama. However, when Trump took office in 2017 he made a point of intensifying the ongoing blockade of Cuba, further strangling the Cuban people and government and putting their survival at risk.

The move has been particularly criticized given the role that the island nation has played throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuba has sent over 50 contingents of the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade to 39 countries to help them in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic. These countries range from Sierra Leone to Panama to Italy.

Thousands of organizations and individuals across the globe have joined a campaign calling for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to the brigade due to their extraordinary efforts to help humanity in one of the worst public health crises to date.

Contrasting the humanist role Cuba has played globally, the US meanwhile has intensified sanctions against over 30 countries and provided no relief to these struggling nations even amidst the pandemic. In the military realm, it has heightened tensions and brought the world closer to a war-like scenario with its aggression against China and belligerent actions against Iran.

The Cuban newspaper Granma wrote, “the United States, the world’s biggest terrorist, classifies as sponsor of this scourge, the nation that has sent more doctors to the world to contribute to saving lives from the menace of COVID-19. The facts reveal the shamelessness of the empire.”

Last minute sabotage by Trump, provoking China via Taiwan

The Trump administration also announced several measures which are likely to escalate the US’ conflict with countries like China and Yemen. These slew of measures, coming with only days left in Trump’s presidency, are being seen as a last-minute effort to cement an aggressive foreign policy legacy for his administration. The measures are also expected to set the upcoming Biden government on a path of continued aggression, especially with respect to China.

On January 8, Pompeo announced the resumption of US’ diplomatic “contact” with Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China. China has condemned the US move as an attempt to “maliciously inflict a long-lasting scar”, and said that the US will pay a “heavy price” for it. The US has also announced a two-day diplomatic visit to Taiwan by its ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, between January 13-15. The announcement comes at a time when the government based in Taiwan has released a new passport design, positioning itself as a nation separate from China.

The dispute between China and Taiwan dates back to the Chinese Revolution of 1949, when the Communist Party of China took control of most of the country and formed the People’s Republic of China. Meanwhile, the rump state of the former Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek moved to the island of Taiwan.

Both sides constitutionally claim the whole of China but over the years, almost all countries barring a few have recognized PRC’s sovereignty over China. The US was among the last nations to do so, recognizing the PRC in 1979.

The government in Taiwan under Tsai Ing-wen has recently tried to establish closer diplomatic and even military relations with the US. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been inclined towards a secessionist policy of abandoning claims of being “China” and becoming an independent province.

Last year, the US signed an arms deal worth over USD 4 billion with Taiwan, which attracted sanctions by China on major weapons corporations like Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. With the upcoming visit by a high-ranking US diplomat to Taiwan and a nearly two-year “trade war”, relations between the US and China are only set to worsen.

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