End the Travel Ban on Cuba

Newsletter in englisch der Latin America Working Group:

Call the White House and tell them to remove Cuba from the list!

Contact the White House comment line by calling 202-456-1111 and strongly stating your opinion that Cuba should be removed from the terrorist list. Don’t forget to give your name, city, and state.
Sign our petition to remove Cuba from the terrorist list, which will be delivered to the Secretary of State and President Obama for a second time later this summer.

Dear Kristine,

We are STILL talking about the terrorist list – and possibilities to get Cuba removed. Recent news reports indicated that the U.S. State Department would miss the deadline for its annual terrorism report. And they noted that the State Department did not plan to use the report to remove Cuba from the terrorist list. (Earlier this year, reports had emerged that the State Department was considering removing Cuba from the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.”)

Does this mean that the administration is no longer thinking about delisting Cuba, and that those of us who support a more rational relationship between the United States and Cuba should throw up our hands in despair? Not at all. As even the State Department’s press spokesperson noted, the President can remove Cuba from the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” at any time; and typically removal is not tied to the publication of the annual report. And few observers expected Cuba to be removed from the terrorist list this spring, anyway – in the midst of major legislative battles on immigration and gun violence prevention.

That doesn’t mean that sensible people shouldn’t object when the report is published, and Cuba is again listed as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism.” In fact, a number of objections have already been raised as the news has leaked out that Cuba will be included in the annual report.

If you’d like to add your voice to these objections, there are at least two ways to speak out:

1. Please contact the White House comment line by calling 202-456-1111 and strongly stating your opinion that Cuba should be removed from the terrorist list. Don’t forget to give your name, city, and state.
2. Please sign our petition to remove Cuba from the terrorist list, which will be delivered to the Secretary of State and President Obama for a second time later this summer.

Recent terrorist list reports from the State Department have contained fewer and fewer justifications for Cuba’s place on the list. If this year’s report drops any of the current arguments, or includes positive references to Cuba’s role in the Colombia Peace Process, it will be a sign that the administration recognizes that Cuba does not belong on the terrorist list.

Importantly, the State Department will have many opportunities over the course of the year to take the sensible step of removing Cuba from the list of terrorist states. In fact, it is because of this possibility that opponents of change are working so hard to convince the administration to sit on its hands. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Albio Sires recently sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to keep Cuba on the terrorist list. That letter needs to be countered. You can read it here.

Although some aspects of U.S. policy toward Cuba—in particular, the embargo and the travel ban—can only be changed by Congress, there are a number of meaningful actions that the Obama Administration could take without waiting for Congress. Removing Cuba from the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” is one of the most significant of these.

Delisting Cuba would be an important diplomatic step in the right direction: it would send a message to the Cuban government that the United States wants to improve the relationship. It could help set the stage for the kind of dialogue and negotiations that are needed to address many issues of common concern, including securing the release of USAID contractor Alan Gross, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba. Included in this equation are the Cuban Five (now Four, as Rene Gonzalez was allowed to stay in Cuba after renouncing his U.S. citizenship). Delisting Cuba would also send an important and long-awaited message to Latin American governments from across the political spectrum. Both publicly and privately, Latin American governments have made it clear to the Obama Administration that U.S. policy toward Cuba needs to change.

If the administration needed an additional reason to take Cuba off the terrorist list, Cuba’s constructive role in the peace talks provides an excellent justification for doing the right thing. Peace talks between the Colombian government (a stalwart U.S. ally and the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance) and the FARC (the Colombian guerilla organization, which the United States has designated a terrorist organization) are currently taking place in Havana. The talks are making real progress; Cuba is helping to facilitate these peace talks for one of the United States’ closest allies.

While Cuba is not coming off the list at the moment when the State Department report is issued in the next weeks, there are good reasons to take it off the list, and there are still important political opportunities to do so. We must continue calling for the prioritizing of Cuba’s removal from the list.

So, take action now. Tell the White House to take Cuba off the list (call 202-456-1111), and sign the petition along with thousands and thousands of other citizens wanting Cuba off the list.

Best,

Mavis Anderson and Emily Chow
The LAWG Cuba Team

Geoff Thale and Clay Boggs
The WOLA Cuba Team

Latin America Working Group
424 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone: (202) 546-7010 Email:

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