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  •  U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for a trip to Texas from the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019.

    U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for a trip to Texas from the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 April 2019

The Trump administration will allow Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday, opening up Cuban companies to lawsuits.

United States President Donald Trump will allow the complete application of Title III of the controversial Helms-Burton Act, opening the doors to a flood of lawsuits over alleged confiscation of property by the Cuban state.

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Reuters and Associated Press news agencies quoted a U.S. official who says the move will be announced Wednesday.

"Tomorrow, the United States will end about 20 years of suspensions of Title III of the Helms-Burton law," a senior US official, who requested anonymity, told a small media group, including EFE, Tuesday.

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

Trump threatened in January to allow action on the controversial law suspended by all administrations since 1996.

Eliminating the suspension will open opportunities for not only U.S. nationals and entities, but also industries linked to foreign companies, particularly those allied with the United States, to file lawsuits against some 200 Cuban state-owned businesses already burdened with sanctions from their northern neighbor.

Title IV, which stipulates that those in possession of properties “confiscated from U.S. citizens or traffic with those properties” will be subject to strict travel regulations, will also be introduced, the official told reporters.

The decision would be a historic first, since 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.

Also, despite calls from the international community to abandon the damaging legislation, the U.S. is proceeding “full steam ahead,” regardless of the widespread effects it will have on the economic wellbeing of nations around the world.

Cuban officials did not immediately react to the announcement; however, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in a speech Saturday that the U.S. "has pushed the precarious relations with our country back to their worst levels ... trying to activate the hateful Helms-Burton Law, which aims to return us in principle to ... when we were a slave nation of another empire."

According to a U.S. official, National Security Adviser John Bolton will explain the administration’s decision Wednesday in Miami and will also announce new sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, said earlier this year that this action was a response to Cuba's "indefensible support to the increasingly authoritarian and corrupt regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua."

Cuba's support for Venezuela is used as a justification by Washington to legitimate the implementation of Title III and destabilize the Caribbean island when the U.S. government has been unsuccessful in trying to remove Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro from power.

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