After 33 years of designating Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, the United States is removing its Caribbean neighbor from a list of terrorist nations in another sign of warming relations between the two countries.
President Barack Obama sent a message to Congress on Tuesday saying Cuba would be removed from the list because it had not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six months and that Cuba had provided assurances that it would not support acts of international terrorism in the future.
The State Department began a review of whether Cuba should still have a place on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on Dec. 17, the day Cuba and the United States announced they planned to put more than a half century of hostility behind them and work toward normalizing relations. It forwarded its recommendation to the president last week and Obama accepted it this week.
“Circumstances have changed since 1982, when Cuba was originally designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America,” the State Department said in a statement Tuesday. “Our Hemisphere, and the world, look very different today than they did 33 years ago.”
In accordance with U.S. law, the president is required to inform Congress 45 days before the directive takes effect. Congress doesn’t have to validate his decision but it could decide to take action to override his recommendation.
South Florida Rep. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen promptly condemned the action, calling it “a miscarriage of justice borne out of political motivations not rooted in reality.”