Trump’s naughty list

US returns Cuba to State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Cuba was added back onto the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list last Monday with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, claiming that Cuba was “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism”. Cuba’s President has denounced the act as a political ‘manoeuvre’.

Joe Biden is set to take office on Wednesday and has previously stated his intent to improve relations with Cuba, following some initiatives started under former President Obama. The challenge is that the process to review Cuba’s place on this list could take months, resulting in serious economic pain for a country that is already struggling.

We spoke with our senior sources on the ground to gauge the sentiment in Cuba.

A senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was irritated but optimistic about the future, “The last thing Biden wants is a troubled Cuba in crisis. Obama could not give continuity to the opening of relations due to the short time he had left in power and Trump never liked the reopening of relations, so the second part of this reopening, a greater economic presence, will be with Biden.”

A second official in Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified, “This is just a desperate measure by Trump, this is how we see it here in Cuba, and this is what we told Biden’s team through our own communication channels. We believe that both Cuba and the US are tired of a troublesome neighbourhood.”

“This is a desperate measure by Trump, this is how we see it here in Cuba, and this is what we told Biden’s team through our own communication channels.”

Official, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuba

A former political advisor and diplomat in Cuba believes relations will improve again with Biden in office, “There is a commitment for the re-establishment of bilateral relations and one of them is energy cooperation in the Gulf of Mexico where Cuba, the US and Mexico have recognised rights. Is polarisation appropriate in a context where, curiously, the energy transition that Biden will undertake must be partly financed by securing US oil reserves? Fortunately, Biden will have the Congress in his favour and it will be easier for him to start the process of removing Cuba from the list. Of course, that will not be free for Cuba, but if we have learned something during our history with Washington, it is how to negotiate.”

“The process of removing Cuba from the list […] will not be free […] but if we have learned something during our history with Washington, it is how to negotiate.”

Former political advisor and diplomat, Cuba

Is this expected to alter Cuba’s relations with any other countries? The senior official gave us his perspective, “We will maintain the balance with our two natural allies (China and Venezuela) in addition to the new Russian presence. Especially in energy matters, but also in areas of ports and rail infrastructure with Chinese capital. These alliance are not eternal, but they are a counterweight: in the short-term with Venezuela and in the medium term with the Chinese.”

How will Cuba’s addition to the State Sponsors of Terrorism list affect the country’s economy, investment environment and development goals? Watch our financial section next week for more detail!




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