By KEVIN DERBY
Francis Rooney and Mario Diaz-Balart
Two members of the Florida delegation urged the U.S. State Department on Wednesday to return Cuba to the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., who used to be the vice chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee when the GOP controlled the chamber, sent a letter on the matter to U.S. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo.
Both of the Florida Republicans weighed in on why they thought Cuba should be included on the list.
“I commend President Trump and his administration for imposing tough sanctions on the brutal regime in Cuba, and for the unprecedented decision to allow lawsuits to proceed against traffickers in confiscated properties,” said Diaz-Balart. “With these key changes, there remains a major mistake of the previous administration to rectify: returning Cuba to the state sponsors of terrorism list. The Cuban regime smuggled weapons to North Korea, harbors fugitives including a convicted murderer on the FBI’s ‘Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorist’ list, and planted thousands of operatives in Venezuela. I look forward to working with the Trump administration to continue its commendable policy of applying pressure to oppressive, anti-American dictatorships. Classifying Cuba as a terrorist state is an important next step in that robust policy.”
“Four years ago, President Obama removed Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism,” said Rooney. “Despite this decision, Cuba has continued to support known terrorist organizations and corrupt dictators such as the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and has continued to harbor known terrorists sought by American law enforcement. Accordingly, I support the Administration’s firm stance toward our communist island neighbor and urge Secretary Pompeo and President Trump to redesignate Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
The State Department defines State Sponsors of Terrorism as “Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act.”
“Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions,” the State Department adds. “Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors.”
Currently, the State Department has Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria listed as state sponsors of terror. Cuba, Iraq, Libya and South Yemen had been on the list but have been removed.