U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson are pressing the administration of President Donald Trump to seek compensation for Americans whose property was expropriated by the Cuban government when it nationalized utilities and industries.
In a letter sent Monday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the two senators from Florida asked this issue to be considered as a priority as the Trump administration is reviewing current U.S. policy with Cuba.
"The U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) has certified more than 5,900 claims against the Cuban Government for stolen property. These claims — now valued at approximately $8 billion — remain unresolved," the letter said. “While the Cuban Government has manufactured ridiculous counter-claims to avoid responsibility, we urge you to seek fair compensation on behalf of these Americans as soon as possible.”
The Cuban government has estimated a damage range from $121 billion to more than $300 billion resulting from the U.S. blockade and other hostile acts.
The senators also express their “concern” over a decision allowing Cubaexport to renew a trademark for “Havana Club” rum last year. “Cubaexport registered the trademark for Havana Club in the United States only after the Cuban Government stole the trademark from the original owners,” they wrote in their letter.
Bacardi, one of the world’s largest liquor producers, claimed that it purchased the rights to the trademark but then had its assets seized in 1960 following the Cuban revolution.
The letter comes after reports saying that Trump is planning to reverse major policies enacted by former President Barack Obama toward Cuba, such as reinstating travel and trade limits.
Trump is expected to make an announcement about the changes in a speech in Miami as early as June, according to the New York Times. It would deliver a campaign promise to the right-wing Cuban-American exile community and Cuban-American lawmakers, such as Rubio, who supported Trump in last year’s presidential election.
A recent report released by Engage Cuba estimated that a reversal of Cuba policies would cost the U.S. economy $6.6 billion and affect 12,295 American jobs over Trump's term in office.
“Trump knows better than anyone, you can't win if you're not in the game. Clearly, 55 years of severed ties clearly didn't produce results,” President of Engage Cuba James Williams said.