By: Stacy M. Brown, NNPA

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the United States has officially removed Cuba from its list of countries deemed less than fully cooperative against violent groups. This week’s decision marked a notable shift in the often-turbulent relationship between the two nations.

Following a review of Cuba’s status, Blinken made his announcement as a result of improved law enforcement cooperation between Cuban and American agencies in the fight against terrorism. The collaboration represents a marked departure from previous tensions, particularly regarding extradition requests from Colombia, which had strained relations between the countries.

Cuba’s removal from the list highlights a nuanced history between the United States and the island nation, dating back to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew the U.S.-backed government of Fulgencio Batista. The aftermath saw the United States impose economic penalties as Cuba increased its trade with the Soviet Union and nationalized American-owned properties.

The relationship further deteriorated during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, a thirteen-day showdown between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. However, a resolution was reached, averting disaster but cementing decades of tense relations.

Efforts at normalization occurred sporadically, with Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro taking significant steps towards diplomatic thawing in 2014, restoring full diplomatic ties and easing travel and trade restrictions. Yet, those efforts faced reversals under the subsequent Donald Trump administration, which reimposed many sanctions and tightened restrictions.

President Joe Biden’s approach has been nuanced, balancing calls for democracy promotion with the desire for improved relations. Recent events, including widespread protests in Cuba and a renewed crackdown by the government, have further complicated the relationship.

Despite those challenges, there have been signs of progress, such as the recent removal of Cuba from the counterterrorism non-cooperation list, signaling the potential for further engagement and cooperation between the two nations. According to Reuters, a State Department official cited the resumption of law enforcement cooperation between Cuba and the U.S. as one the reasons why the previous designation was deemed “no longer appropriate.”

“The department determined that the circumstances for Cuba’s certification as a ’not fully cooperating country’ have changed from 2022 to 2023,” the official said.