Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted at the possibility of redesignating Cuba as a state sponsor of terror and called Havana “evil” in an interview with Bloomberg published on Tuesday.
Last week, several reports said the Trump administration is considering putting Cuba on the terror list as a last-minute move that could hobble Joe Biden’s plans to move closer towards normalization with Cuba. President Obama removed Cuba from the list in 2015.
“We don’t get out in front of decisions that will be made on designations, but the world knows Cuba’s evil hand in so many places,” Pompeo said when asked if the designation was likely.
He went on to cite Cuba’s support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Trump administration often blames Cuba for Washington’s failed regime change effort in Venezuela.
“We’ve been working to create democracy for the people of Venezuela for our entire four years, and it is Cuban efforts, Cuban security operations, Cubans controlling the security apparatus inside of Venezuela that has inflicted massive pain on the Venezuelan people,” Pompeo said.
The reality of the Trump administration’s Venezuela policy is that Juan Guaido, who the US recognized as president of Venezuela, never had wide support in the country. The military remained loyal to Maduro, and coup attempts failed miserably. It’s not clear if Cuba actually has much of a military presence in Venezuela.
“It is completely appropriate for us to consider whether Cuba is in fact sponsoring terrorism,” Pompeo said. “And if so, just like any other nation that is providing material support to terrorists, they too should be designated such and treated in a way that’s consistent with that behavior that they’re undertaking.”
Throughout his term, President Trump has reversed Obama’s efforts to normalize with Cuba by reimposing restrictions on travel, investments, and exports of Cuban liquor and cigars.