Do you get the impression that U.S. lawmakers regularly branded as “Cuban-American” just loathe their hyphenations? If you don’t, you may after you read this: All seven Cuban-Americans in Congress insist that Cuba remain on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The department’s annual re-assessment of said list is on this week; while they “vehemently” deny that Cuba has been considered for removal, the “Cuban Caucus” (not an actual caucus, but there’s something similar) isn’t taking chances.
Here’s a sampling of their reasons for keeping Cuba on the terror list:
. . . the Justice Department has indicted a former U.S. Agency for International Development employee, Marta Rita Velazquez, for allegedly helping a convicted former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst spy for Cuba.
. . . U.S. lawmakers say the country is still running afoul of the law by serving as a safe haven for fugitives from U.S. law and keeping USAID contractor Alan Gross in prison on charges he sought to undermine the Cuban state by distributing communications equipment.
. . . recent incidents such as the death of Cuban activist Oswaldo Payá in a car crash. His driver has said he was driven off the road by a car with government license plates.
So we have espionage, fugitive protection and political imprisonment and murder. You know what we don’t have? Evidence of terrorism or material support for it. And the State Department requires a period of six months of terrorism-free activity, with assurances that it will continue, before they consider a delisting. It’s not just me pointing this out; it’s people such as Brig. Gen. (Ret.) John Adams, who was writing about this last March, and pointed out that even North Korea, Pakistan and Yemen haven’t made it onto the list yet. Ah, D.C. inefficiency.
Adams contends that removing Cuba from the terror list could open up the U.S. to more opportunities to engage with President Raúl Castro. That’s no guarantee, although given modest reforms on his watch, I dare say it’s more likely to happen with him than with other heads of state. But the Cuban Caucus hasn’t provided us with evidence that Cuba should still be considered a terrorism sponsor, when they haven’t done anything lately that China hasn’t. (Yeah, I went there.)
So why the desperation within the Cuban Caucus to be as unbending on the issue as possible? Bad memories of the homeland? Trying to avoid even the appearance of supporting the Castros? Whatever it is, it’s not helping. Put them on a “haters of democracy” list if necessary. But don’t tell me they need to be on the worst list of all without bringing up events of decades ago.