US Tightens the Noose Around Cuba

Each year the United Nations almost unanimously tells the US to end its embargo on Cuba. Instead, Washington is now going in the opposite direction.

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban economy took another hit this week as the United States opened the door to hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits against the island’s government and military that appropriated confiscated properties of who are now US citizens.

The bad news for Cuba comes on the heels of a near collapse of the government’s greatest political and economic ally, the Maduro government in Venezuela.

The Trump administration decision tightens the noose of the US embargo first applied to Cuba in 1960 and expanded in 1962.  Then in 1996 a new law was passed to further strengthen the sanctions, but it has never been fully applied.

The opportunity to sue over confiscated properties is something many elderly Cuban-Americans and their descendants have been demanding for decades.

European and Canadian companies with investments in Cuba got a 45-day reprieve before their legal vulnerability in the US is decided in Washington.

“Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton (Libertad) Act would let Americans — including Cubans who have since become U.S. citizens — sue companies that “traffic” in property confiscated by Cuba after the country’s 1959 revolution,” explains NPR.

“For now, the Trump administration is allowing lawsuits only against Cuban companies that are already blacklisted in the U.S. because they are tied to Cuba’s military and intelligence services. Foreign companies, however, are on edge since Pompeo’s waiver runs only through April 17,” NPR noted.

“Today I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of #TitleIII of the Libertad Act,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter, adding, “We must hold #Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property.”

Title III has not taken effect before as it has been suspended by presidential decree every six months since it became law in 1996. Its lifting could bring on a huge amount of lawsuits and billions of dollars in court judgements. It could make funds of any future exports from Cuba to the US vulnerable to being seized to pay the court judgements.

If the law is fully applied as it could be after April 17, foreign companies or banks operating in buildings previously owned privately could be at risk as the suits would attempt to go after their assets in the United States.

Attorney Robert Muse gave to NPR some examples of vulnerability that the foreign companies could face.  “If your grandfather had a sugar plantation expropriated in 1960 and someone is buying that sugar, dealing in the sugar, profiting from it, they can be deemed to be a trafficker, but also the government agency that oversees that sugar plantation today, say the Ministry of Agriculture, they can be sued,”

The State Department is supposedly consulting with its allies in Europe, Canada and elsewhere as part of the decision-making process, said NPR.

21 thoughts on “US Tightens the Noose Around Cuba

  • March 6, 2019 at 8:53 am
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    As I’ve always suspected, given Trump’s “Art of the Deal” diplomacy, it’s possible Trump may use Title III as a bargaining chip and other sanctions in general to bring Cuba to the negotiating table to hammer a claims settlement accord, because we slapped sanctions in response to Castro confiscating refineries and sugar plantations, et cetera.

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    • March 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm
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      Because some people can’t take care of themselves. Especially when they are under a dictatorship. The bullies here are the cuban government members, they are whom don’t give freedom to their people. I don’t like the external interventions but sometimes the dictators don’t leave more choices.
      By the way I’m cuban and I’m grown under the Cuban dictatorship.

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      • March 8, 2019 at 9:09 pm
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        The Cuban regime’s failed policies and totalitarian ways do not justify the embargo.application of title3 of helms-burton will make conditions for the people even worse in my opinion and will not bring down the government. I visited Cuba twice in 2018 and saw decay, yet the people strive to improve the situation.

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        • March 11, 2019 at 10:48 am
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          Slide an offer under the table to let Trump mafia build a hotel in Habana and all will be well.

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      • March 12, 2019 at 1:23 pm
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        Shame on you.. Have you no pride in your Homeland.

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  • March 6, 2019 at 9:29 am
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    Hopefully the people who try to sue will not get a dime. The U.S has relentlessly bullied Cuba and hopefully the companies affected can afford good lawyers. I hope this really backfires on the evil Trump administration and countries that are our allies will turn against the US.

    Trump, Marco Rubio, Elliot Abrams and Bolton are even worse than the Castros ever were. Cuba has never threatened the US and this is nothing more than American imperialism like in Guatemala, Chile, Venezuela and countless other countries where the US government tried to facilitate regime change. The US government should really be ashamed of itself!!

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    • March 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm
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      You assert that Cuba has never threatened the US? Not exactly true. Castro emphatically urged Khrushchev to commit to a nuclear first strike against the US at the onset of the Cuban missile crisis. Thankfully, the Soviets ignored Castro and cooler heads prevailed. You also claim that the US has “bullied” Cuba. Do you really want to talk about bullying? Do you know even one Cuban who grew up under the Castro dictatorship? Ask them who the real bullies are.

      Reply
      • March 6, 2019 at 1:56 pm
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        and when was that ? maybe the cold war is ended ? The Berlin wall has fallen. Why can not the USA take care of themselves, and let other ppl alone ?! They should maybe finish in Syria before they start in Carribean …again.

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      • March 6, 2019 at 3:05 pm
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        Moses P., I wold call it a defence. The U.S. started the crisis by putting weapons in Italy and Turkey, pointing at Russia. And who made them remove it ? Krutschov.

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  • March 6, 2019 at 10:15 am
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    Home Depot where are YOU? HD had a lot of property in CUBA. So, I hope President Trump does implement Tittle III, so many Cubans need relief in CUBA as well as the USA.

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  • March 6, 2019 at 10:50 am
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    In reality large numbers of Cuban agents are operating Venezuela to keep the Maduro dictatorship in power.
    Tyrannies are criminal organizations.

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  • March 6, 2019 at 6:47 pm
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    I ain’t getting in the Cuban American fight I just want them to pass that law so blacks former slaves and their families can sue the US government and any companies benefitting from such seeing if it works against Cuba it sure as hell will work against, the USA, UK, and all who had slave labour, man this will be so good, hurry up Just Do It…..

    Reply
  • March 6, 2019 at 9:27 pm
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    It’s sad to see this discussion fall into such tired super-old ruts. The Cuban Missile Crisis, for goodness sake? For me, at least, the question that matters is: How is this policy likely to affect the Cuban people–short term and long term?

    There’s no doubt it will and can only hurt in the short run. The Cuban economy is already shaky, which has manifested recently as shortages of basics like detergent, bread, or eggs, or with prices for basics that are beyond the reach of anyone who is working in a state job and who isn’t also running a black market side gig. Squeezing foreign investment in Cuba will only cause further deprivation.

    Perhaps that is the very motivation: cause enough pain in the lives of ordinary Cubans and, in the long run, the regime will lose legitimacy and the Cuban people will overthrow their own government. To my mind, that is the most ignorant idea of all, that Cubans will reject their own system if they are just subjected to enough pain. 60 years of U.S. pressure, and seven or eight years of horrific suffering in the 1990s, disprove the idea that the U.S. can punish Cubans into rejecting the regime and the revolution. The wisdom of 60 years argues against both the embargo and, specifically, imposition of Title III.

    So, we’re left with simply the desire to inflict pain, to cause hurt. I don’t know a single person inside Cuba who supports that. Whereas every Cuban I’ve ever met supported President Obama’s moves to foster constructive and respectful engagement. We’re going backwards with our Cuba policy, and Cubans, ordinary Cubans, by the millions, will pay the price.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2019 at 9:27 pm
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      The Cubans will only blame the Americans. They would not overthrow their government because of something the Americans do. They hate Americans with a passion and don’t see that changing any time soon. They are currently actively keeping their citizens from reaching Gitmo for asylum

      Reply
    • March 12, 2019 at 2:16 am
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      I agree. This whole embargo thing is ridiculous. It is like telling a child that they cannot go to bed before they finish their dinner. Almost 60 years later an old dying man is still sitting at the table. Talk about stubborn. Lift the embargo. It has not worked, it will not work. Quit beating a dead horse already. Fully restore and normalize relations (for real not photo ops).

      Reply
    • March 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm
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      I totally agree. very well said. I just returned from my 9th visit to Cuba and will return in November. I am a travel agent and offer tours to Cuba so that more Americans can learn how wonderful the Cuban people truly are. YES, Cuba is a poor country but they are so rich in many other ways. I believe that the US should give back Guantanamo Bay . Cuba is no threat to the US and we are only hurting the people of Cuba with our sanctions.

      Reply
  • March 7, 2019 at 1:26 am
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    Everything possible to see the Castro’s dictatorship gone would be great 60 years of repression, lack of freedom of speech, and misery is enough. Everyone here that always brings the argument of free health care and “free” education never would leave the freedom they gave to live in the Cuban paradise. They hate to the USA is so deep that blind them to see the horrible life the Cubans people live. I’m Cuban and I can tell you
    Horrors stories that what is to live in Cuba under the Castro’s dynasty

    Reply
  • March 7, 2019 at 10:30 am
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    This is just more political bs. Do you really think that the US government really cares about how Cuban people in Cuba or the US are affected. Most sugar plantations were taken from the Cuban farmers and given to American companies like Hershey. The farmers were then forced to work for them. This was done by Batista with the support of the US and it’s conglomerates. Where is their justice? Oh right, they got it when the revolution reversed this. So all of the American companies trying to get compensation through the Helms Burton can go and suck on some Cuban sugar cane. Btw, I am a Canadian living in Cuba on my American co pension. Gracias.

    Reply
    • March 7, 2019 at 1:22 pm
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      Groveling for a dictatorship because you live there. Easy read

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      • March 8, 2019 at 8:02 am
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        Yes the Buffon of Trump who is trying to destabilize every country is not a dictator?? Americans in their pure arrogance

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  • March 9, 2019 at 9:12 am
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    Whatever you think of the Castro regime look back at what preceded it. Batista brought the US Mafia into Cuba. Over 60% of Cuban land was owned by US Corporations and locals were turfed out. If anyone protested Batista shot them. You might then get a better understanding of the fear many Cubans feel about a return to those days. Not a happy prospect either way.

    Reply

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