President Donald Trump has signaled that his administration at last will enact provisions in the 1996 Helms-Burton Libertad Act to allow Americans to sue Cuba and Cuban companies over disputed holdings, leading to applause Monday from Florida’s Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, among others.
Trump announced he would end a long-continued suspension of two key provisions in Helms-Burton, and would allow Americans to go forward with lawsuits against hundreds of companies operated by the Cuban government, involving properties seized in the Cuban revolution and contested ever since.
Title III of Helms-Burton allows individuals and companies that had properties seized to sue to recover it, or to be compensated for it. Title IV allows the U.S. Department of State to deny visas to people suspected of trafficking in those properties.
The provisions have been on hold by every adminisration since President Bill Clinton signed the bill in 1996. The Trump administration has twice continued the suspension, pending reviews.
In applauding the opening, Rubio, Scott and Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart of Miami also drew ties between the support Cuba has provided to Venezuela dictator Nicolás Maduro.
“President Trump is sending a strong message that the United States will not sit idly by while the Cuban regime continues to support the Maduro crime family at the expense of the Venezuelan people,” Rubio stated in a news release. “For 60 years, the Cuban regime has forced millions into exile, destabilized neighboring countries, given safe harbor to fugitives from justice and to international terrorists, and made millions trafficking in stolen property.
“By beginning the process of implementing Title III and Title IV of the Helms-Burton Libertad Act, the United States is holding the Cuban regime accountable for its crimes, including its support for the murderous Maduro crime family. Justice is coming — and it is just getting started,” Rubio declared.
“The administration’s plan to fully and immediately implement Title III and IV of the Libertad Act signals to the international community that the United States is serious about its commitment to freedom and democracy in Cuba,” Scott stated. “Allowing American citizens to sue for stolen property in Cuba and denying foreign nationals involved in trafficking stolen property entry into the United States is a huge step toward cutting off the money supply to the Castro Regime.
“It is clear that where we see instability, chaos and violence in Latin America, we also see the fingerprints of the Castro regime and their money – and this action by the administration is an important step in stabilizing the entire region. President Trump’s strong action on the Libertad Act will further hold the Cuban regime accountable. I urge him to continue with the planned implementation this month so we can help begin a new day of freedom and democracy for Cuba and its people,” Scott stated.
Added Díaz-Balart, “Today, the Trump administration took another important step toward righting some of the wrongs perpetrated by a dictatorship that brutally oppresses its people and opposes U.S. interests at every opportunity. Shamefully, for nearly twenty-two years since the LIBERTAD Act’s enactment, unscrupulous businesses have ignored this important provision in U.S. law and have chosen to partner with tyrants. This is just the first action of many regarding the Administration’s actions on Title III. Justice for the victims of the Castro regime’s confiscations is long overdue.”