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  • Per the suspension, industries linked to foreign companies, particularly those allied to the United States, will be spared from the legal measures until April 17.

    Per the suspension, industries linked to foreign companies, particularly those allied to the United States, will be spared from the legal measures until April 17. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 March 2019

Washington confirmed a partial suspension, as opposed to a full one, of the Helms Burton Law, opening the door to lawsuits targetting Cuban companies.

The United States is giving the green light to claimants interested in suing Cuban companies in the Caribbean, the U.S. Department of State said Monday, confirming a partial suspension, as opposed to a full one, of the infamous Title III of the Helms-Burton Law.

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As of March 19, U.S. nationals and entities will be free to lodge lawsuits against some 200 Cuban state-owned businesses already burdened with sanctions from their northern neighbor.

However, per the suspension, those industries linked to foreign companies, particularly those allied to the United States, will be spared from the legal measures until April 17.

The Helms-Burton Law was introduced in 1996 under the Bill Clinton Administration and essentially enabled Cuban-Americans to sue companies profiting from properties confiscated by federal officials during the post-revolution era. Hundreds of lawsuits could potentially be filed against international companies stationed in the Caribbean country.

The decision comes as a historic first, after every administration dating back to 1996 has suspended Title III “due to flagrant extraterritoriality & harm it would cause to US corporate interests,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter in January, urging the U.S. to reconsider.

“We strongly reject this new interventionist provocation, threatening, arrogant, violating international law. The US government shows its contempt for the rest of the world...Political blackmail and irresponsible hostility just to harden a blockade against #Cuba,” Rodriguez tweeted, denouncing the legislation as illegal, inapplicable and is void of any value or legal effect.

The Department of State assured Monday that it will continue to monitor the “impact of suspension” of the Title III for another 30 days.

On Monday, Rodriguez tweeted, “The State Department's decision is a hostile and irresponsible act that seeks to increase the blockade and stifle the Cuban economy. This is a measure that has opposition in the world and within the #USA, whose businessmen are against the blockade and favor trade with #Cuba.”

“I strongly reject the State Department's announcement #USA to authorize claims under title III of the Helms-Burton Act against a list of Cuban companies arbitrarily sanctioned by the gob. of Trump. Extension 30 days in the rest of the cases is unacceptable threat vs. the world,” he wrote.

Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, also tweeted, “It was an irresponsible decision to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Law. The US government ignores international clamor against Cuba's blockade, which is also increasingly rejected by companies and citizens of its country. The unfortunate desire to destroy the Revolution blinds them.”

Over the last year, Cuba has suffered a loss of at least US$4 billion due to the 1960’s blockade which attacks the economic, commercial, and financial well being of the island and which has been denounced by multiple international groups as an act of war and a violation of human rights.

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