To Spite Biden, Trump to Label Cuba Terrorist State

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The Trump administration will soon take steps toward designating Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism as an 11th hour effort to create hurdles for the incoming Biden administration, which is likely to pursue warmer ties with Havana.

A senior administration official told CNN that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to make the designation in the coming days. A second official confirmed that discussions are taking place, although the timing is uncertain. ]

The Cuban government has already denounced the move, which is one of a series of bold initiatives the Trump administration is taking as it attempts to leave a lasting imprint on US foreign policy with just three weeks left before President Donald Trump leaves office.

Currently, only three other nations bear the US terrorism designation: Iran, North Korea and Syria. Sudan was recently removed from the list as part of its agreement to normalize ties with Israel.

Such a designation would impose restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, certain controls over exports and various financial restrictions.

It would also result in penalization against any persons and countries engaging in certain trade activities with Cuba.

The New York Times was first to report that Pompeo was considering the designation. A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on Tuesday, saying “we do not discuss deliberations or potential deliberations regarding designations.” The White House declined to comment on the record when reached by CNN.

Momentum to get the designation through had waned in recent months when one of the original advocates for the plan, Mauricio Claver-Carone — a hawkish Cuban-American attorney — left the National Security Council to become president of the Inter-American Development Bank.

However, others within the administration, including Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special representative for Venezuela, and senior Western Hemisphere official Michael Kozak, as well as Florida Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, all supported following through with the idea — despite a lack of support from most of the State Department’s Cuba desk, according to a former administration official.

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