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The Capitol of Cuba in Havana. Photo: Ramon Espinosa/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration has designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, the State Department said Monday.

Why it matters: The announcement is part of President Trump's latest effort to force controversial policies through before he leaves office. It could complicate President-elect Biden's plans to improve relations with Cuba.

The big picture: The Obama administration lifted the designation in 2015 in a push to thaw Cuba-U.S. relations.

  • Trump, however, has undone a number of Obama-era policies on Cuba since he became president.
  • In 2017, he banned financial transactions with businesses owned by Cuba's military and intelligence services and tightened its trade embargo to force Cuba to take greater action in protecting human rights.
  • The U.S. also blocked all flights to Cuba outside Havana in December 2019 to curb tourism.

What they're saying: "We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of #Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism," Cuba's Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla tweeted Monday afternoon. "The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims."

The Cuba announcement came after the State Department designated Yemen's Houthi rebels as a terror group over loud objections from Congress and humanitarian groups.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 12, 2021 - World

Trump administration launches foreign policy blitz in final days

Pompeo leaves the stage. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Yemen's Houthi rebels a terror group, labeled Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism and risked provoking China by lifting restrictions on interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials — all within 48 hours, and with less than two weeks left in President Trump's term.

Why it matters: The administration, and in particular Pompeo, has made little secret of the fact that it's trying to tie President-elect Biden's hands, in particular when it comes to Trump's hardline policies on Iran and China.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden starts negotiating to raise capital gains tax rate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden wants to nearly double the capital gains tax paid by wealthy Americans, as first reported yesterday by Bloomberg and confirmed by Axios.

Counterintuitive: Biden's plan is better for private fund managers (hedge, PE, VC, etc.) than what he proposed during the campaign.

Scoop: Caitlyn Jenner makes it official for California governor

Caitlyn Jenner. Photo: Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Former Olympic decathlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner has filed her initial paperwork to run for governor of California and will officially announce her bid later today, her campaign tells Axios.

The big picture: Jenner, a longtime Republican, is seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election, hoping her celebrity status and name recognition can yield an upset in the nation's most populous state.