Cubans hail removal from US list of state terrorism sponsors
HAVANA – The Associated Press
Cars drive through the streets of Havana April 14, 2015. The United States decided to drop Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism on April 14 partly because of Cuban assurances that it would not support terrorism in the future, senior U.S. officials said. REUTERS PhotoCuban officials and ordinary citizens alike hailed the island’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, saying the move by President Barack Obama heals a decades-old insult to national pride and clears the way to swiftly restore diplomatic relations.
“The Cuban government recognizes the president of the United States’ just decision to take Cuba off a list in which it should never have been included,” Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs, said late on April 14.
Cuban and U.S. foreign-policy experts said the two governments appeared to have taken a major leap toward the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington after four months of complex and occasionally frustrating negotiations.
“This is important because it speaks to Obama’s desire to keep moving forward,” said Esteban Morales, a political science professor at the University of Havana. “Now there are no political obstacles. What remains are organizational and technical problems, which can be resolved.”
In a message to Congress, Obama said April 14 that Cuba’s government “has not provided any support for international terrorism” over the last six months and has given “assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”
Cuba will officially be removed from the terrorism list 45 days after the president’s message was sent to Congress. Lawmakers could vote to block the move during that window, though Obama would be all but certain to veto such a measure.
What remains to be seen in coming weeks is whether Cuba will allow U.S. diplomats to move around Cuba and maintain contacts with citizens including dissidents, the second point of contention in the negotiations on restoring full diplomatic relations.