WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Cuban President Raul Castro should be required to return fugitives to face justice in the United States before Cuba is removed from a US State Sponsor of Terror list, US Senator Robert Menendez said in a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The Castro regime has a long track record of providing sanctuary to terrorists and harboring US fugitives,” Menendez said in the letter on Thursday. “Before Cuba is removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terror, the Castro regime must be held to account for these acts and American fugitives must be brought back to face justice in the United States.”
Since 1959, the Castro regime has harboured scores of criminals wanted for murder, arms trafficking and hijacking in the United States, according to Menendez. The Senator added that US State Department figures indicate that 70 American fugitives were residing in Cuba as of 2007.
The Castro regime provides sanctuary to groups the United States have designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), Menendez noted. The Senators list of charges also included smuggling weapons to North Korea and harbouring a former US Central Intelligence Agency operative that provided explosives to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Removing Cuba’s designation as a sponsor of terrorism is one of the initial steps in the process of normalizing relations with the United States, a policy US President Barack Obama announced at the end of 2014, which the White House said also encompasses easing trade restrictions and potentially reopening the US embassy in Cuba.
The United States imposed an embargo on Cuba in 1961 during the Cold War because of antagonism between Washington and the communist government in Havana.