By Michael Jarvis, UK Correspondent
Outgoing US President Donald Trump has redesignated Cuba as “a state sponsor of terrorism” in a move that’s the latest in a spate of controversial decisions in the dying days of his administration.
The new policy was announced on Monday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will also demit office at the end of the Trump one-term tenure.
Announcing the reinstatement of the harsh stance towards Cuba, Secretary of State Pompeo said: "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 US justice."
It also accuses Cuba of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists” and engaging “in a range of malign behaviour across the region”.
The US under Donald Trump has been very critical of Cuba for supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.
Cuba, whose current president is Miguel Diaz-Canel, has repeatedly refused to turn over US fugitives who have been granted asylum.
They include former Black Panther Assata Shakur who had escaped to Cuba from a New Jersey prison in 1979 where she was serving a life sentence for killing a state trooper and was granted asylum by then-president Fidel Castro.
The new sanctions prevent most travel between the US and Havana and crucially, money transfers from which the Cuban economy had started benefitting before President Trump started tightening the screws on the island.
The incoming US government of President-elect Joe Biden, is itself expected to overturn this latest last-gasp action of President Trump which is regarded by many analysts as more of the fulfilment of a threat than a clearly thought-out international relations policy.
However, with an ever-growing inbox of pressing domestic issues, it was not immediately clear how high up on team-Biden's priority list this was likely to be.
Mr Biden was Vice-President under Barack Obama when Cuba was initially taken off the list of state sponsors of terror in 2015 based as part of a series of measures then aimed at relaxing the decades-long crippling US economic sanctions on the socialist state.
Many observers and US allies have questioned the Trump administration’s claims that Cuba is sponsoring terrorism.
Some regard it as a nod by Mr Trump to his Cuban supporters in Miami who helped him win Florida in last November’s presidential elections.
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