Posted on Friday, 05.31.13
State Department: Havana provides safe haven to US fugitives
By Juan O. Tamayo
Cuba is harboring and supporting U.S. fugitives but may be trying to
distance itself from two dozen members of a Basque terrorist group who
live on the island, according to the State Department's annual Country
Report on Terrorism released Thursday.
The report for 2012 is totally separate from the department's list of
state sponsors of terrorism, which now includes Cuba, Iran, Syria and
Sudan and subjects those nations to a special set of U.S. economic and
Advocates of keeping or removing Cuba from the list awaited the 2012
report with special interest because of media reports earlier this year,
flatly denied by the State Department, that Secretary of State John
Kerry would take Havana off the list.
The Cuba section of the 2012 report appeared to be similar to the
section in 2011, with both noting that Havana authorities are continuing
to harbor fugitives wanted in the United States and supporting them with
housing, ration books and medical care.
One such fugitive is Joanne Chesimard, on the FBI's "most wanted
terrorist" list since 2005. A Black Panther who was convicted in the
1973 murder of New Jersey State Trooper, she escaped from prison in 1979
and turned up in Havana in 1984. The FBI hiked the reward offered for
her capture to $2 million in April.
"There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or
paramilitary training to terrorist groups," the 2012 report said, in
wording almost exactly the same as in the 2011 report.
Both reports also noted "suggestions" that Havana has tried to distance
itself from members of Spain's Basque Homeland and Liberty (ETA),
classified by Washington as a terrorist group, who live in Cuba by "not
providing services, including travel documents, to some of them."
The 2012 version adds that two dozen ETA members are living in Cuba.
Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also classified
as a terror group, received refuge in Cuba in past years, according to
the latest version. The 2011 report noted that FARC members had received
medical assistance. The FARC and Colombian government are currently
holding peace talks in Havana.
Both reports also noted that the U.S. Financial Actions Task Force has
identified Cuba as having "strategic … deficiencies" in the fight
against terrorism financing and money laundering. The latest report adds
that Cuba has now joined a regional body designed for that purpose.
Cuba has been on the separate U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism
since 1982. Havana also is on a separate U.S. government list, with
Venezuela and others, of countries that are not "cooperating fully with
United States antiterrorism efforts."
To remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors, the White House is
required to notify the U.S. Congress that Cuba has not engaged in
terrorism for some time and promised not to do so again.