Vidal: Cuba never should have been on US terror list
By Brian Williams, The Militant
A second round of talks between U.S. and Cuban officials on reestablishing diplomatic relations, which the U.S. government broke off 54 years ago, took place in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27. The shift in Washington’s tactics against Cuba’s socialist revolution was announced by President Barack Obama Dec. 17, at the same time as a press conference by President Raúl Castro announcing the return to Cuba of the final three of the Cuban Five.
The White House is seeking to fast-track the reopening of its embassy in Havana by April, while the Cuban delegation has emphasized steps Washington needs to take to remove obstacles to meaningful diplomatic relations.
“Cuban representatives reiterated the importance of solving a series of issues, which will allow for the creation of the appropriate context to resume diplomatic relations and open embassies in both capitals,” said a Feb. 27 news release from the Cuban delegation. These include removing Cuba from Washington’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list, allowing banking services to Cuba’s Interests Section in Washington and assurances that U.S. diplomatic staff observe “norms governing the functions of diplomatic missions” in “compliance with national laws and non-interference in the internal affairs of States,” the statement said.
Cuba has been on the State Department’s State Sponsor of Terrorism list since 1982. Other countries on it are Iran, Syria and Sudan.
“For Cuba it is a matter of sheer justice,” Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, head of the North American Bureau of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry and the leader of Cuba’s delegation, told reporters at a news conference in Washington after the negotiations. “Cuba strongly believes that it should have never been included in this limited list of countries and today there is no ground to justify the inclusion of our country on that list.” [emphasis added]
The state sponsorship of terrorism issue is not up for negotiation, but “a separate process” of “evaluation” by the U.S., Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier. “Nothing will be done with respect to the list until the evaluation is completed.”
“In our view it’s not necessary to put it all in one package,” Vidal told Cuban reporters after the talks. “If, for example, in a few weeks we receive some satisfactory news in regards to the matter of Cuba’s removal from the terrorist list, I think we can be ready to then begin talking about how to formalize the reestablishing of relations.”
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Editor’s Note: Vidal departed the US in May 2003 as part of the mass expulsion of 14 Cuban diplomat spies. Part of two husband-wife spy teams chosen, she and another spy-spouse departed “voluntarily” when their mate was declared Persona Non Grata. Thus, the US actually threw out 16 spy-diplomats.