|© AFP Jewel Samad|
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Cuba should be taken off the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, US diplomatic troubleshooter and former UN ambassador Bill Richardson argued Tuesday.
The United States and Cuba, the Americas’ only communist-ruled one-party state, do not have full diplomatic relations. A full US economic embargo has been clamped on Havana since 1962.
While President Barack Obama’s administration has made some tweaks in US policy, there have not been dramatic strides made in the past few years.
Richardson, who speaks Spanish and has been to Cuba on private missions, said: “my view is that this terrorism list is not very consistent. It’s an emotional issue… and I think the removal of Cuba of the terrorist list is one of those five, six steps the administration could make” to help yield change.
There are just four countries on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. The United States took North Korea off in 2008.
“What I propose is that (bilateral) migration talks begin to include humanitarian issues,” Richardson, a Democrat who also is a former New Mexico governor and lawmaker, said in a speech on US-Cuban relations at the Brookings Institution. The neighbors resumed bilateral migration talks in 2008.
The list is up for renewal annually by the US State Department. Countries on it are subject to certain trade sanctions.
Meanwhile, Cuba should release US subcontractor Alan Gross, Richardson said. He is being detained by Havana to be tried for distributing communications material to local Cuban civilian groups.
Richardson, who has been a diplomatic troubleshooter for the United States for two decades with missions to countries such as North Korea and Cuba, said he had traveled to the Caribbean nation three times in the past 18 months, most recently in August seeking to have Gross freed.
Gross was arrested in Cuba in December 2009 while on a State Department-funded mission to promote democracy. Richardson said these programs should be reviewed and in some cases eliminated.
He also urged Havana to drop obstacles that can keep many Cubans who left the island from returning home for family reasons: passports can cost hundreds of dollars, the government charges hundreds more to allow “final departure,” and it blocks bank accounts of those who emigrate without permission.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license