This is a timely topic. A distinguished congressional delegation led by Senator Patrick Leahy has just returned from Cuba, and a number of its members have recommended that Cuba be removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Concurrently, the Boston Globe reported that senior State Department officials are actively considering Cuba’s removal from the list.
Cuba was placed on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 1982 on the grounds that the Cuban government supported armed revolution in the Americas; today, the State Department alleges that Cuba harbors Basque ETA members, Colombian FARC and ELN members, and U.S. fugitives from justice. The official justification for maintaining Cuba on the list has become increasingly thin. For many years there has been no evidence of any kind that would warrant its inclusion on the list. Cuba does not, for example, endorse terrorism as a policy. Recent events suggest that keeping Cuba on the list is not only hard to justify, but also counterproductive.
The U.S. State Department has recognized Cuba’s constructive role in the peace talks between the government of Colombia and the FARC being held in Havana. Cuba´s inclusion on the terrorist list at a time when it is instrumental in brokering peace negotiations for one of the United States’ closest allies makes U.S. foreign policy appear contradictory. More broadly, the U.S. approach toward Cuba—which is exemplified by the terrorist list designation—has been publicly challenged by Latin American leaders, especially at the 2012 Summit of the Americas.
The Center for International Policy, the Latin America Working Group Education Fund and the Washington Office on Latin Americ invite the public to a panel discussion titled “Taking Cuba off the Terrorist List: A Question of National Interest”
March 7, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. for registration and continental breakfast followed by Panel discussion from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. at National Press Club in Washington DC at 529 14th St., NW, 13th floor.
Panel of distinguished quests
Rep. James P. McGovern, D-MA, participant in the recent congressional delegation to Cuba
Wayne Smith, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba under President Jimmy Carter
Ambassador Anthony Quainton, a former State Department official who was involved in the original decision to put Cuba on the list in 1982
Attorney Robert Muse, specialist in international law who follows the legal issues related to designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism”
Adam Isacson, Senior Associate at the Washington Office on Latin America and a Colombia specialist who follows the Colombia peace process and the Cuban role in the peace process
Dr. Ana Garcia Chichester, a Cuban-American professor of Spanish at Mary Washington University.
The speakers will be available for questions from the press.