Republicans Look to Maintain Blockade After Failing to Prevent Cuba's Removal From US Terror List

News from Cuba | Friday, 24 April 2015

With Republicans unable to stop Cuba's removal from U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, they plan to focus on maintaining the economic blockade

The path to clear Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism appeared to overcome another hurdle when Republican lawmakers announced that they would not try to challenge President Obama's decision to remove Cuba from the list.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a vocal opponent of the Cuban Revolution, stated that she and her colleagues had decided they would not try to move legislation to block Obama's decision after originally saying they would.

“A joint resolution to repeal President Obama’s de-listing of Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list would not have the far-ranging implications that many had assumed it would,” Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami Herald.

However the retreat by Republicans appears to be motivated not by conviction but rather for the sake of expediency. According to Foreign Policy magazine, Congress cannot legally prevent the president from taking Cuba off the list.

“Even if we were to pass it... it would be a Pyrrhic victory,” Ros-Lehtinen said to Foreign Policy.

Rather than start a fight they cannot win, Republicans signaled that they intended to oppose Obama's new approach toward Cuba by other means, namely preventing the president from lifting the blockade.

President Obama signaled to Congress earlier this month that he intended to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism list, paving the way for the restoration of diplomatic relations and the reopening of embassies that were shut down over 50 years ago.

The island was originally placed on the list in 1982, at a time when it was supporting national liberation movements in Latin America and Africa, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. Cuba's removal should take effect in late May after a mandatory 45-day waiting period expires.

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