Jeb Bush condemned Friday the U.S. State Department's removal of Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terror, saying Iran's leaders "are surely taking note." The release, sent from Bush's Right to Rise PAC hours after the announcement, called Cuba's removal from the list a capitulation to Havana that does little for human rights in the island nation just off the Florida coast.
The official State Department statement Friday morning came months after it was announced that Cuba would eventually be removed from the list. The two countries had scarcely been in diplomatic contact for 55 years until late last year. The response from Bush and other Republican presidential hopefuls was hostile, especially from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who are both of Cuban descent.
"Neither continued repression at home nor Cuba's destabilizing activities abroad appear sufficient to stop President Obama from making further concessions to the Communist regime in Havana," said Bush, the likely 2016 presidential candidate and former Florida governor, in the release. "Today's news is further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them."
While taking Cuba off the terrorism list is a necessary condition for improved relations, trade and travel, the broader embargo remains in place and can be lifted only by act of Congress. Cuba was placed on the terror list in 1982 for supporting leftist guerrilla forces in Latin America. Iran, Syria, and Sudan are the only states still on the list.
The Obama administration's announcement last year that relations with Cuba were thawing was immediateky attacked by Republicans. Cruz in December said the move would be remembered as "a tragic mistake." Rubio, when the intention to remove Cuba from the terror list was announced in April, said the move sends "chilling message to our enemies aboard that this White House is no longer serious about calling terrorism by its proper name."