Colombian VP, on visit to Cuba, urges US lift island embargo

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Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez on Thursday began her two-day visit to Havana with a call for Washington to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and to lift its decades-long embargo on the Communist-run island.

Attending the inaugural Havana International Book Fair, Marquez said that “a country that bets on peace cannot be a country that finds itself on a war list.”

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Cuba has contributed “enormously to Colombia’s progress in finding peace,” said Marquez, a former human rights activist who is her nation’s first Afro-Colombian vice president and who once fled to the island nation after facing death threats.

She referred to Cuba’s hosting of peace talks between her country’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which led to a peace deal in 2016 and the end of more than five decades of civil war.

“I cannot fail to thank the island, its leaders and its people for having been the common home for that process and for their willingness to repeatedly support peace in our country,” she said.

“We support the demand to lift the blockade,” she added.

Washington first designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982 – amid the Cold War – over its history of providing safe haven, training and financial support to leftist insurgencies.

Cuba remains on the US list along with North Korea, Iran and Syria.

Marquez met privately later in the day with President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who tweeted: “I ratified the pledge of Cuba with this sister nation in its search for peace.”

Another leftist insurgency, the National Liberation Army (ELN), is still in arms in Colombia although peace negotiations were restarted last November – with active Cuban assistance.

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