On January 11, 2020, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the United States was re-designating Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.”  In a press release, the State Department noted that with this action, “we will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice.”

Cuba was removed from this list (which includes Iran, North Korea and Syria) in 2015 when the administration of President Barack Obama reinstituted diplomatic relations with the country and sought to lessen the impact of the U.S. embargo and sanctions on the Cuban people.  It’s re-designation is initially expected to have a limited impact as the administration of President Donald Trump has reimposed many of the sanctions and other restrictions which had been removed or lessened under President Obama.

The re-designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism will: (i) subject Cuba to sanctions that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba; (ii) restrict U.S. foreign assistance; (iii) ban defense exports and sales;  and, (iv) impose certain controls on exports of dual use items.