In December 2014, when the President announced our historic shift in Cuba policy, he opened a new era in our relationship with the Cuban people, and the entire hemisphere. The President’s new approach to Cuba moves beyond decades of unsuccessful efforts to isolate Cuba, and is the continuation of a process designed to empower the Cuban people. This dramatically improves our capacity to promote the interests and democratic values that the United States stands for across the Americas and around the globe.
As part of our new way forward with Cuba, the President in December instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and conclude that review within six months. In April, the Secretary of State completed that review and recommended to the President that Cuba should no longer be designated as a State Sponsors of Terrorism. The President then submitted to Congress the statutorily required report indicating the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the certification that Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months; and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.
The rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission. While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a state sponsor of terrorism designation.
For 55 years, we tried using isolation to bring about change in Cuba. But by isolating Cuba from the United States, we isolated the United States from the Cuban people and, increasingly, the rest of the world. Through this new approach of engagement, we are finally in a position to advance our interests while simultaneously improving the lives of the Cuba people. Our new direction allows us to work with the Cuban government on areas of common interest like the environment, law enforcement, health and migration. Our new direction provides new opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, and for U.S. businesses, which for too long have been unable to compete in Cuba or to bring U.S. products and services to improve the lives and living standards of the Cuban population. Our new direction will allow us to better promote our values, including support for basic human rights, as attention within Cuba and the international community is no longer focused on opposition to U.S. policy. And our new direction dramatically increases the potential between the American and Cuban people, contact which we will use to hasten a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.
We welcome today’s announcement by the Secretary of State, which is another step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between the United States and the Cuban people.
Bernadette Meehan is the Spokesperson for the National Security Council.