What does it mean that Cuba is no longer on the US list of terrorism sponsors?

By Eileen Sosin  (Progreso Weekly)

Cuban flag waves in front of the US Interests Section, soon to be the US embassy, in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — It’s official: as of today, Cuba is off the US list of “countries that sponsor terrorism.” After the 45 days required since Congress received President Obama’s request to remove the island from the “blacklist,” we’re talking about an accomplished fact.

What consequences will this measure have? How much will it accelerate the establishment of “normal” diplomatic relations with the United States? How does it influence Cuba’s insertion into the global economy? Several Cuban academics offer their views on the subject.

Tourism

“First of all, Cuba should never have appeared on that list as a state that sponsors terrorism,” said José Luis Perelló, researcher and a faculty member at the University of Havana’s Tourism School.

“To many markets that supply tourism and to their travel agents it is ‘uncomfortable’ to negotiate tour packages for a destination that appears on such a list.

“That also damages Cuba’s tourism image and its ability to negotiate with important international hotel-and-leisure chains. Cuba’s exclusion from that list reverts those negative impacts.

“The announcement of the intention to reestablish diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, to open embassies and remove Cuba from the list of sponsors of terrorism has resulted in a dizzying growth of international tourism toward the island.

“Between January and May, 1.5 million international visitors have come to Cuba. And not only from the United States, whose flow of travelers has increased 36 percent so far this year, but also Germany (22 percent), France (25 percent), the United Kingdom (26 percent), and Spain (16 percent), to mention just a few.

“This is also an opportunity for the integration of tourism in the Caribbean. Now is the turn of the small island states to draw up strategies for multiple-destination packages, with new ferry routes and the possibility of yachting. In the cruise ship industry the opportunities and the potential for integration will be extraordinary.

“For the country to develop tourism it will need new investments in support infrastructures; the modernization of ports and marinas; the expansion of airports and the construction of new ones; the repair of roadways and the improvement of land transportation.

“Such investments demand large sums of money, which are only possible through international financial institutions from which Cuba has been excluded, among other reasons because it appeared on a list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

“What’s needed is for the White House to begin a review of the Congressional rules that condition Cuba’s relation with international financial institutions. The legislation allows a dispensation if the President determines that [such a review] benefits the interests of the United States and so informs the Congress.”

Foreign investment

“For Cuba to be off of the list of State sponsors of terrorism, and after the announcement by both governments about a normalization of diplomatic relations, this is a good sign, not only for U.S. business people but also for possible U.S. investors who may want to participate in the economic opening the country is conducting,” says Omar Everleny, a professor and researcher at the Center of Studies of the Cuban Economy (CEEC).

“The investment communities of other countries — especially European and Latin American — fear that they may be displaced from the Cuban market in the long run, so in the past four months they’ve increased their aggressiveness when submitting proposals that may be attractive for the Cuban government.

“So, after the Dec. 17 announcement, more than 300 investment proposals have come to the Office of the Mariel Special Development Zone. There are even proposals from the United States, which still cannot be materialized.

“Banks or financial institutions will be less fearful of seeking information about Cuba’s national reality, since Cuba will be a more ‘normal’ country in terms of its economic interests [The banks] can now begin to study the potential they can provide to U.S. business.

“What cannot be overlooked is that any significant answers from business groups still cannot be put into action, because all economic decisions on Cuba have been codified in a legal and juridical framework. They are laws that can be reversed only by the U.S. Congress.

“That’s why it is important to generate strong lobbying by the interests of the big U.S. corporations or companies that understand the benefits of the new market opening before them.”

Politics

“First we need to say that Cuba is being removed from a list on which it should never have been placed. It’s a question of basic justice,” says Dalia González, professor and researcher at the Center for Hemispheric and U.S. Studies (CEHSEU).

“Cuba’s designation had more to do with political motivations than with any real cause. In fact, the latest annual report by the U.S. State Department, published April 30, 2014, admitted, as in past occasions, that ‘there is no information that the Cuban government has supplied arms or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.’

“Beyond that, this is a list that shouldn’t even exist. Who gave the U.S. State Department the right to decide what country is terrorist and punish it for that?

“Once a state is designated as a sponsor of terrorism, the consequences are symbolic as well as economic. This is part of the demonization of a country and that’s no small matter. For Obama, even, it would make it more difficult to explain that he wants to normalize relations with a country that the U.S. itself considers a sponsor of terrorism.

“In practical terms, the long-awaited decision by the U.S. president eliminates one of the main obstacles for the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between both countries.

“Being on the list implies legal restrictions regarding exports, trade, development aid, credits and such. In the case of Cuba, almost the entire economic cost of being on the list is part of the blockade.

“The result is that the island has endured a dual hounding — one is the harassment on its financial transactions worldwide and the ensuing refusal of banks to work with Cuba for fear of sanctions from Washington; the other is the imposition of multimillion-dollar fines to those banks.

“That situation explains why no banks dared to provide financial services to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

“In addition, members of the U.S. Congress who are opposed to Cuba have submitted bills against the countries on the list, so as to affect Cuba through decantation and improve the chances of success for their proposals.

“Because Cuba will no longer be seen as an alleged ‘threat,’ that could facilitate Congressional debates over the blockade and deny arguments to those who advocate maintaining it.

15 thoughts on “What does it mean that Cuba is no longer on the US list of terrorism sponsors?

  • As I asked in the previous post, are those Cubans and their foreign supporters that use the word “blockade” really that stupid to not know the difference between the correct word embargo and blockade?

    Reply
    • This point needs to be kicked to touch as it is an argument on semantics and frankly is quite boring. The term blockade is used in a metaphoric rather than a physical sense. The reason it is used is because the term trade embargo refers to trade between two nations whereas the blockade refers to the fact that trade between other countries and Cuba has been blocked also. The good news is that this aspect has become less and less significant over the years.

      Reply
      • The US embargo in no way prohibits other countries from doing business with Cuba. The US embargo is within the sovereign right of the US to determine with whom US businesses may conduct trade.

        Reply
        • Your problem Moses, is that you only care about sovereignty when it comes to the USA. Cuba on the otherhand, has to conform to want Washington wants i every domestic and foreign realme for you to be satisfied.BTW, when did they abolish the HB provision allowing for the confiscation of a foreign cargo ship which appears from its log to have visited Cuba in the last 6 months ? Don’t Italian candy producers have to certify anymore that their ciccolatini don’t contain Cuban sugar anymore ?

          Reply
          • If an Italian candy manufacturer wants to use Cuban sugar, the US can’t nor shouldn’t prohibit that decision. What US law does have the sovereign right to do is prevent the sale of that candy to the US. You are mistaken about confiscation of a foreign cargo ship. The US can, however, deny that ship to unload it’s cargo in US ports. Finally, Cuban sovereignty must and should be respected. However, Human Rights trump States rights. Cubans have been denied basic human rights for 55 years. On this issue, the US has an obligation to intervene.

          • I believe you are wrong about confiscating ships under Helms Burton

          • Nope. No confiscation. If a cargo ship Captain LIES about his cargo or fails to disclose that he is loaded with dangerous or illegal cargo, then he is subject to confiscation pending further investigation. But that’s because the Captain misled port officials, including customs agents. That’s a Federal crime. But if a Captain acknowledges that he just left Cuba or that he is carrying Cuban goods, he will not be allowed to make port except to make repairs and take on supplies.

          • ” Any…. vessel, together w/ its tackle, apparel, furniture and equiptment, that is subject to a violation under para.1 shall, at the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, be forfeited to the Government of the United States”.

          • So you see, I was right. Next time just accept my comments as gospel and save yourself the time and effort to look it up.

          • What I’m going to look up next time, is you in the DSM.

          • Brilliant

          • If a mugger holds a gun to your head and asks you to hand over all your money that doesn’t prohibit you from refusing and walking away either. However, there is a big difference between free choice and a choice that is loaded with consequences and sanctions. This is something that Conservatives totally fail to understand. There are many companies around the world that would like to do business with Cuba if it wasn’t for the US embargo, therefore the term blockade is appropriate.

          • So your argument is that because of the strengths of the US market combined with the weaknesses of the Cuban market, businesses choose to avoid Cuba? Sorry, “dani” that is still their choice. There is no “gun” put to their heads. Listen, emotionally you want to support Cuba. Maybe it’s because you are mad at God that you weren’t born in the US or something but your false and poorly thought out arguments don’t help your quest.

  • Investors like to be paid back, otherwise it is a gift. Will Cuba have property rights protections and legal framework to support major capital investments ?

    Reply
  • Cuba certainly did belong on that list, as the Castro regime did support several terrorist organizations around the world. Whether they still do today is debatable, (what was that shipment of Chinese made weapons doing in Colombia?) but for reasons of his own, President Obama decided to take Cuba off the list and that’s what he did, facts to the contrary.

    Reply

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