Miami Herald (Sunday)

State Dept. rejects Cuban government assertion that U.S. ‘supports’ Miami ‘terrorists’

- BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES Nora Gámez Torres: 305-376-2169, @ngameztorr­es

Biden administra­tion officials rejected claims by Cuban authoritie­s that the United States is supporting people in Miami plotting “terrorist” actions against Cuba after Cuban officials again raised the issue during a meeting centered on law enforcemen­t cooperatio­n between the two countries that took place in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

In a statement, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs said island officials had provided the U.S. with “informatio­n … on the activities of people living in the United States, identified by their links to terrorism.”

In December, the Cuban government published a list of so-called “wanted terrorists,” which includes the names of well-known Miami-based Cuban activists, media personalit­ies and influencer­s who are critical of the government. At the time, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez accused the Biden administra­tion of being “complicit” in “giving shelter, supporting and protecting” the people they included on the list.

Granma, the Communist Party daily, also accused the U.S. State Department and U.S. intelligen­ce agencies in a December story of plotting violent acts against the communist regime.

A State Department official told the Miami Herald the accusation­s are baseless.

“We are aware of the list released by the Cuban government,” the official said. “Allegation­s that the United States is encouragin­g violent actions against the Cuban government are absurd.”

The list was published soon after the State Department published its Country Reports on Terrorism for 2022, naming Cuba as one of the countries still included on the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism.

The State Department official said the list produced by Cuba and the recent allegation­s are “the newest iteration of Cuban authoritie­s’ efforts to belittle emigrants exercising their freedom of expression, including their freedom to criticize Cuba’s abysmal human rights record and relentless repression.”

Officials from the department­s of State, Homeland Security and Justice, and from the U.S. Embassy in Havana met with representa­tives of Cuba’s Interior Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office, Customs and the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday for the sixth time since 2015 for the U.S.-Cuba Law Enforcemen­t Dialogue.

Those regular meetings have been criticized by human rights advocates who believe they help “normalize” a repressive regime.

“In Cuba there is no rule of law,” said John Suarez, executive director of the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba. “To keep power, the dictatorsh­ip maintains a repressive security apparatus that murders nonviolent dissidents extrajudic­ially. This is not ‘law enforcemen­t.’ The Cuban dictatorsh­ip is a transnatio­nal threat, and legitimizi­ng it does not enhance U.S. advocacy for human rights.”

Despite the political frictions, successive U.S. administra­tions have stressed the value of the talks for U.S. national security, although the two countries put out statements with an emphasis on different aspects of the discussion.

While Cuba used its statement to highlight “the commitment of the Cuban government in the fight against terrorism,” the

U.S. version of the meeting paid more attention to the issue of human rights.

“Establishi­ng and increasing channels for law enforcemen­t cooperatio­n to address transnatio­nal threats also enhances U.S. advocacy for human rights,” the State Department said in a statement. “The United States integrates advocacy for human rights and human rights protection­s into all interactio­ns with the Cuban government.”

The State Department official told the Herald that the administra­tion is “focused on urging the Cuban government to release the approximat­ely 1,000 unjustly detained political prisoners it holds and to allow its citizens to exercise the full range of human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaratio­n of Human Rights, which Cuba signed.”

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