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January 2, 2024

Pressley, McGovern, Mass. Lawmakers Urge President Biden to Take Cuba off Terrorism List

With Zero Evidence, Former President Trump Redesignated Cuba a State Sponsor of Terrorism

Lawmakers Tell Biden: “We believe the time to act and remove Cuba from the list is now – not months from now.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02), along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representatives Seth Moulton (MA-6), Lori Trahan (MA-3) and Stephen F. Lynch (MA-8), released a new letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to take Cuba off the State Sponsor of Terrorism List as quickly as possible.

President Obama removed Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list in 2015 after an exhaustive review by experts at the State Department and in the intelligence community came to the conclusion that the designation was without merit because Cuba had “not provided any support for international terrorism.” In his final days in office, President Trump put Cuba back on the list—citing no new facts to justify his administration’s decision in a move that many said was vindictive and politically motivated.

“It was a vindictive action taken by the Trump Administration in January 2021 as it departed office,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter, adding that, “[i]n fact, Cuba and the United States have a functioning bilateral cooperation agreement on counterterrorism.”

The letter also notes that the State Sponsor of Terrorism listing is a major factor impacting Cuban instability. Severe shortages of food, medicine, fuel, and other necessities are causing an unprecedented number of Cubans to flee the island.

“While there are multiple reasons for the economic crisis in Cuba, without a doubt a significant contributing factor is the restrictions and penalties facing international financial institutions and other entities because Cuba is on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list,” wrote the lawmakers.

Then-candidate Joe Biden promised to address re-engagement with Cuba and return to the policy begun during the Obama-Biden administration.

“We supported you on this commitment,” conclude the lawmakers, noting that “two and a half years into your Presidency, the overwhelming number of sanctions put in place by your predecessor, including placing Cuba back on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List, remain in effect.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

In 2022, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) led over two dozen of their colleagues in calling on President Biden to conduct a review of U.S. policy toward Cuba and take executive action to ensure basic medical supplies and global vaccine production and distribution are not negatively affected by U.S. sanctions.

In 2021, Rep. Pressley and her colleagues successfully urged the Biden administration to support the Cuban people by suspending U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine, remittances, and other humanitarian assistance from reaching the Cuban people.