WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
29 May 2015

State Department Announces Cuba’s Removal from ‘State Sponsors of Terror’ List

Press Release

Washington, D.C.—Today the State Department announced the removal of Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. The move takes effect today after the end of a 45-day waiting period following the White House's announcement of the move to Congress. 
“Removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism is a long overdue step in the process of updating U.S.-Cuba relations,” said Geoff Thale, Director of Programs at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a research and advocacy organization with over two decades of experience on Cuba issues. 

“While big policy differences remain between Washington and Havana, the Cuban government is in no way a supporter of terrorism. Taking Cuba off the list puts an end to a longstanding barrier in this relationship, and paves the way for both sides to discuss their differences with the Cold War blinders knocked off," said Thale.    
The removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism is both a necessary step towards opening a U.S. embassy in Havana as well as a crucial part of President Obama’s deeper process of updating U.S. policy towards Cuba for the 21st century. 
"This announcement removes the single largest obstacle to re-establishing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Now that Cuba is officially off the terrorist list, we can expect more changes. The two sides will likely announce an agreement to exchange embassies and resume official diplomatic relations in coming weeks," said Marc Hanson, WOLA Senior Associate for Cuba. 
Cuba was first placed on the list in 1982 on the grounds that it backed armed revolutionary movements in the Americas during the Cold War. However, this policy is inapplicable to today’s reality, as indicated by the fact that the brief section on Cuba in the last State Department report on the issue contained fewer than 200 words. As the report points out, “there was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.”
“This move updates the U.S. approach to Cuba, and to Latin America, for the 21st century, and lays the foundation for a new relationship with the rest of the hemisphere,” said Hanson.


Jessamine Bartley-Matthews
Communications Officer, WOLA
(202) 797-2171