*End the Travel Ban on Cuba*
While most members of Congress were on recess in August, we weren't. Instead of hanging up our hats, we are prepping for what may come this fall. This means educating ourselves and you on some of the harsh aspects of our current policy towards Cuba.
Although the travel ban and the trade embargo are two of the most ruthless elements of our policy, there are other significant roadblocks that prevent us from normalized relations with Cuba, one of them being Cuba's placement on the United States' list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
*What is the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism? Watch this video to find out more! *
The U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism is a register of countries designated by the State Department who have purportedly provided assistance for acts of international terrorism. Cuba has been designated on this list since 1982. Currently there are only three other countries on this list: Iran, Syria and Sudan. Interestingly enough, North Korea, a country with one of the lowest-ranking human rights records in the world, was removed from the list in October 2008. And Libya, under Col. Gadaffi, was removed on May 15th, 2006.
The most recent State Department *Country Reports on Terrorism* [http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2011/195547.htm] says the following:
"Reports suggested that the Cuban government was trying to distance itself from ETA "(The group was founded in 1959 and has since evolved from a group promoting traditional Basque culture [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_culture] to a paramilitary group with the goal of gaining independence for the Greater Basque Country [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_Country_(greater_region)])" members living on the island by employing tactics such as not providing services, including travel documents, to some of them " and that "There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training for either ETA or the FARC."
As Geoff Thale, Program Director at the Washington Office on Latin America, says in our video, *"Any rational for keeping Cuba on this list disappeared a while ago." * [http://youtu.be/mBah7_uQN_E] And it would appear that these findings above would be among the reasons to remove Cuba from this list.
Cuba recently assisted in the *brokering of peace negotiations* [http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/80545.html] between the Colombian government and FARC members, which will happen in Oslo on October 5th. While some anti-Cuba hard-liners in Congress still argue that Cuba is a terrorist state, reality and these new developments clearly dominate the conversation.
Cuba can be removed from this list via the President and the U.S. Congress. According to a *Congressional Research Services report* [http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R41617.pdf] from this year:
* "The first option is for the President to submit a report to Congress certifying that there has been a fundamental change in the leadership and policies of the government and that the government is not supporting acts of international terrorism and is providing assurances that it will not support such acts in the future."
*We will continue our effort to normalize relations with Cuba, and we need your help to conquer these hurdles that keep our peoples separated. *Will you get involved? One way: share this email with others and ask them to sign up for our alerts. Another: remain ready to respond to action suggestions on the terrorist list and travel issues.
The LAWG Cuba Team, [http://www.lawg.org/our-campaigns/end-the-travel-ban-on-cuba]
Mavis, Emily and Robyn
Latin America Working Group
424 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone: (202) 546-7010 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]