The former president of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos, backed by the group of world leaders gathered in the organization The Elders, has asked US President Joe Biden on Tuesday to revoke the designation of Cuba as a “State sponsor of terrorism ”, A controversial measure by the Donald Trump Administration. The last-minute inclusion of the island on the State Department’s blacklist hinders the resumption of the policy of rapprochement between Washington and Havana, as the Democratic president projects.
“I unequivocally reject the decision of the previous US Administration to re-designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. President Biden should immediately begin the review process to revoke this, ”Santos said in a statement collected by The Elders, the organization founded by South African Nelson Mandela in 2007. “Cuba should be applauded for the crucial role it played in helping end decades of conflict and facilitating reconciliation in Colombia, and not facing sanctions for doing so. The countries that facilitate peace processes deserve our gratitude and recognition, ”said the also winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for the agreement he signed at the end of 2016 with the extinct FARC guerrilla, today disarmed and turned into a political party.
Colombia is, at least partially, behind the decision against Cuba. The outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, justified the steps prior to his decision on January 11, a few days after Biden took office, in a repetitive claim by the Government of Iván Duque, Santos’ successor. Bogotá is irritated by Havana’s refusal to extradite a group of commanders of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last guerrilla group active in Colombia. As it had already done with the talks with the FARC, the island hosted the Andean country’s government’s negotiations with the ELN, which broke down in January 2019 after the atrocious attack by the rebels against a cadet school in Bogotá. Cuba has refused to send the negotiating leadership of the guerrillas protected by the protocols of rupture that the Colombian State had signed, which has increased the tension between the two Latin American capitals.
“The ELN negotiators had received formal guarantees of a safe return, in accordance with the standard protocols for peace negotiations, which the Cuban Government must defend,” The Elders points out in their statement, dated London. The Chilean Ricardo Lagos and the Mexican Ernesto Zedillo are some of the ex-presidents who are part of the group, as well as Ban Ki-moon, former secretary general of the UN. The organization, currently chaired by former Irish President Mary Robinson, has supported the peace process with the FARC at different times.
The other architects of the historic agreement with the FARC, negotiators Humberto de la Calle and Sergio Jaramillo, had already defended Cuba’s role as guarantor of the pact. What is at stake is not only a possible rapprochement with the ELN or the relations of the United States with the island, “but the very possibility of carrying out peace negotiations,” they warned last month in a statement in which they recognized and They appreciated the generosity and professionalism displayed by the Cuban Government in favor of peace in Colombia. Norway, the other guarantor of the process with the FARC, has indicated that if countries that facilitate peace efforts run the risk of ending up on the black list of sponsors of terrorism, they will think twice about supporting those efforts. As Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden strongly supported the so-called Havana talks at the time, and the new Administration has indicated that peace in Colombia is one of its priorities in the region.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.