As the House Impeaches Trump for Insurrection, Pompeo Targets Cuba
Mike Pompeo Puts Cuba Back on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List
As President Donald J. Trump faces a second impeachment and prepares to leave the White House in disgrace, apparently he wanted to leave something behind — perhaps a consolation prize — for his loyal Cuban-American supporters in Miami. Why not lash out at Cuba, always an easy target for the right-wing?
Accordingly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism…in a last-minute foreign policy stroke that will complicate the incoming Biden administration’s plans to restore friendlier relations with Havana,” the New York Times reported.
The charge is that Cuba supports “international terrorism.” As usual, the Trump administration offered no solid evidence to back up its claim, just a collection of out-of-date grievances. In fact, as part of President Barack Obama’s historic rapprochement with Cuba, he had removed Cuba from the list.
“At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction,” Obama said.
The President is the Real State Sponsor of Terror
Lawrence O’Donnell, host of The Last Word on MSNBC, cited the hypocrisy of the Trump administration’s action against Cuba as the president faces a second impeachment for inciting an insurrection.
“Cuba is not a state sponsor of terrorism, and the world knows it,” O’Donnell asserted on Jan. 11. However, “we have a president of the United States who is a state sponsor of terror,” he said.
The Capitol insurrection revealed the extent to which Trump’s base of support comes from white supremacists and terrorist groups. PBS’s FRONTLINE and ProPublica reported Jan. 9 that several well-known hate groups were involved in the Capitol riot. “Videos reveal the presence of several noted hardcore nativists and white nationalists who participated in the 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that President Donald Trump infamously refused to condemn.”
Some of the right-wing groups involved in the insurrection included: 1) the Boogaloo Bois, an ultra-right group “frequently associated with racist violence,” 2) the Proud Boys, an “ultranationalist street gang,” 3) the Oath Keepers, “a militant group that has drawn in thousands of people from the military and law-enforcement communities,” and the Three Percenters, defined as “an American and Canadian militia movement and paramilitary group” with…”far-right ideology.”
The Charges Against Trump
The House Articles of Impeachment accuse Trump of inciting a violent mob attack on the US Capitol Jan. 6, an insurrection that renders him guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. The House has put together a “powerful case” against Trump just based on the public record, Daniel S. Goldman, who served as staff counsel to House Managers in Trump’s first impeachment, told Lawrence O’Donnell Jan. 11.
The evidence includes Trump’s own words urging the mob to “fight harder” during his speech at the “Save America March” just prior to the attack on the Capitol. Trump repeated his baseless accusations of voter fraud and then literally issued what the Washington Post identified as a “call to arms.”
The evidence also includes videos of the attack, which media outlets have shown over and over, ugly scenes that will be seared into the American psyche forever. The white mob, incited by Trump, breaks into the Capitol, beating Capitol Police, injuring several, and killing one police officer. A woman rioter is fatally shot and three other people die from medical causes.
The mob occupies Congressional Offices and the Senate Chamber and chants that Mike Pence should hang (apparently for not “fixing” the election results for Trump). Meanwhile, Senators and members of the House, who had been in the midst of certifying the Electoral College vote in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden, huddle together in the House Chamber. Just a few armed Capitol Police officers stand between them and the mob outside their door.
Obama’s Opening to Cuba
During his presidency, Barack Obama accomplished remarkable changes to the US-Cuba relationship, which had been locked in a Cold War dynamic for decades. As I noted in my October article, Obama “reestablished diplomatic ties, severed since 1961, and reopened a US Embassy in Havana. In 2014 he announced and subsequently carried out cooperation between our two nations on issues of ‘shared interests,’ including ‘health, migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and disaster response.’”
In addition, “Obama made it significantly easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and use their credit and debit cards there. Following Obama’s trip to the island, American tourism to Cuba exploded, powering an economic boom for small business owners of Airbnb style rentals, hotels, and restaurants.”
Unfortunately, Obama’s achievement was one of the first casualties of the Trump administration, who took our two nations back to the Cold War era and beyond.
The Effect on Cuba
The New York Times noted that the Trump designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism “automatically triggers United States sanctions against Cuba” but may not have that much effect given the severity of US penalties already in place against the island. The Trump sanctions have destroyed the boom of the Obama years and helped exacerbate economic scarcity in Cuba.
Trump’s departure will be a breath of fresh air in every respect. It may take several months for President Joe Biden to change the Trump administration’s policies, but ultimately the new administration should be a significant boost for the people of Cuba, who have long suffered from almost 60 years of inhumane US policies.