Cubans welcome Obama’s move to remove Havana from terrorism list

Residents of Havana welcome President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

HAVANA, CUBA (APRIL 15, 2015) (REUTERS) – Residents of Havana hailed President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism Tuesday (April 14), clearing away the main obstacle to restoring diplomatic relations and reopening embassies after more than half a century of enmity.

Obama’s decision comes on the heels of a Western Hemisphere summit in Panama where Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro sat down on Saturday (April 11) for the first meeting of its kind between U.S. and Cuban leaders in nearly 60 years.

“It’s time, it’s time that Obama realised that Cuba is not what they say the world over. It’s time to re-establish ties between Cuba and the United States,” said local, Sara Pino.

Cuba’s communist government had demanded removal from the U.S. blacklist to move forward on efforts to normalise relations between the two former Cold War foes. Obama ordered a review of Cuba’s presence on the list after he and Castro announced a diplomatic breakthrough on December 17.

Washington placed Cuba on the list in 1982, citing then-President Fidel Castro’s training and arming of communist rebels in Africa and Latin America. But Cuba’s presence on the list has been questioned in recent years.

Havana resident Arael Aguirre told Reuters Cuba shouldn’t have been on the list.

“I think that it’s a good intention by President (Obama) and I don’t think Cuba should be on that list. Cuba doesn’t sponsor terrorism. On the contrary it helps many countries,” he said.

Local Sayury Salazar said the move would be good for Cuba.

“Very good, I think it’s very good for our country because everything will be better for us,” she said.

Congress has 45 days to consider Obama’s decision before it takes effect, and lawmakers are extremely unlikely to block the move.