Havana. Cuba
Havana. Cuba iStock

The US State Department announced on Monday that it is designating Cuba a state sponsor of terror, accusing it of providing safe harbor to malicious actors and engaging in "malign behavior" in the region, Fox News reports.

"The Trump Administration has been focused from the start on denying the Castro regime the resources it uses to oppress its people at home, and countering its malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

"With this action, we will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message: the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of US," he added.

State Department officials said Cuba refused to extradite 10 suspects wanted in Colombia for a police academy bombing that killed 22 people and injured dozens more. Authorities also accused Cuba of harboring multiple American fugitives, including Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur. She was convicted of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.

"Cuba returns to the SST [State Sponsor of Terror] list following its broken commitment to stop supporting terrorism as a condition of its removal by the previous administration in 2015," Pompeo said.

The move overturns the policy of former US President Barack Obama, who in December of 2014 announced that ties between the US and Cuba would be restored.

The announcement followed several steps, including the United States officially dropping Cuba from its blacklist as a state sponsor of terrorism, as well as a scheduled airline service, increased co-operation on law enforcement and environmental protection.

The moves culminated in Obama visiting the island and later naming a new ambassador to Cuba.

The Obama administration’s attempts to normalize relations with Cuba in 2015 encountered resistance from President Donald Trump, whose administration recently argued that Cuba had failed to cooperate on counterterrorism.

It is unclear how long the designation announcement will last, as Obama's former Vice President, Joe Biden, is set to take the White House in just over a week.