Cuba Designated a State Sponsor of Terror

The U.S. State Department designated Cuba a State Sponsor of Terrorism (“SST”) on January 11, 2021. Countries are designated on the SST list when they are determined by the U.S. Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.

The four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation can include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. Here, the January 11 re-designation of Cuba on the SST subjects Cuba to:

  • Sanctions that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba
  • Restricts U.S. foreign assistance to Cuba
  • Bans defense exports and sales to Cuba
  • Imposes certain controls on exports of dual use items.

Cuba joins only three other countries on the list: (1) North Korea (designated November 20, 2017); (2) Iran (designated January 19, 1984); and (3) Syria (designated December 29, 1979). Sudan was recently removed from the list by the Trump administration on December 14, 2020.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for many reasons, including:

  • Cuba’s domestic oppression of its people
  • Cuba’s malign interference in Venezuela and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere
  • Harboring of fugitives and denial of extradition requests
  • The U.S. State Department’s notification to Congress in 2019 that Cuba is “not cooperating fully” with U.S. counterterrorism efforts

This action is part of a broader Trump administration policy to impose stronger trade and economic restrictions on Cuba. In November 2017, the Trump administration restricted financial transactions with entities controlled by the Cuban government. Furthermore, many new entities have been added to the Cuba restricted list under the Trump administration. As of 2019, the Trump administration has more or less abandoned engagement with the Cuban government, and has opted instead to increase sanctions based on Cuba’s human rights violations and its support of the Venezuelan government under Nicolas Maduro.

For more information, check out our recent article on Trump vs. Biden policies on Cuba.

Export and Sanctions Compliance

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to be proactive about your export sanctions compliance. To ensure compliance with EAR, ITAR, FCPA, and OFAC regulations, businesses should develop and maintain an export compliance plan that is thoughtful, proactive, and well-executed. While having a sanctions compliance plan is not a guarantee that a sanctions violation will not occur, a coherent export compliance program can minimize the risk of non-compliance.

Diaz Trade Law’s EAR, ITAR, FCPA, and OFAC-related services include:

Contact Us

If you have questions on sanctions or export-related matters, contact Diaz Trade Law today at or 305-456-3830.