Taking Cuba off list could heal old wound

HAVANA -- A year after he took office, President Ronald Reagan put Cuba on a list of state sponsors of terror for backing leftist guerrilla groups in Central and South America.

Cuba remained on the list as the Soviet Union fell, Fidel Castro stopped aiding insurgents, and the global focus on terrorism turned to the Mideast. For outside observers, Cuba's place on the list was a Cold War relic. For Cuba, it became a potent symbol of what many call five decades of bullying by the United States.

Now, as the two countries move to end a half-century of acrimony, President Barack Obama has made it clear he will take Cuba off the terror list.

Cubans ranging from President Raul Castro to ordinary citizens describe their country's removal from the list as one of the most important elements of that detente, one that could help heal a great injustice.

In Cuban eyes, they are the victims of terror, not the U.S. For Cubans, the worst act of aggression against the island since its 1959 revolution occurred when 73 people aboard a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados to Havana died in a 1976 bombing blamed on exiles with ties to U.S.-backed anti-Castro groups.

Both the men accused of masterminding the crime took shelter in Florida, where one, Luis Posada Carriles, lives quietly to this day.