Foreign companies trafficking in stolen Cuban property get pass from Trump admin’s new sanctions

When the Trump administration announced in January it was extending the Title III provision of the Helms-Burton Act for only 45 days, it gave many the hope that Cuba’s Castro dictatorship would finally face justice. Since Helms-Burton became law in 1996, the provision has been suspended for 6 months at a time, each and every time by every president since,

The Title III provision allows American citizens to sue for property it owned in Cuba, which was stolen from them at gunpoint by the Castro dictatorship. Stolen property that today is being trafficked by the Cuban regime to foreign companies for hard currency. But with the suspension extended for only 45 days, many hoped they would finally have legal recourse against international companies illegally trafficking in property stolen from them.

Alas, when the details were released for what will happen at the end of the 45 day extension, that will not be the case (via Reuters):

The Trump administration said on Monday it would allow lawsuits by U.S. citizens against dozens of Cuban companies and other entities on Washington’s blacklist but will maintain, for now, a ban against suing foreign firms doing business on the communist-ruled island.

The move marked an intensification of U.S. pressure on Cuba and also appeared aimed at punishing Havana over its support for Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro. But it stopped short of the more severe step of targeting foreign investments in Cuba – though it left the door open to doing so in the future.

Lawsuits in U.S. courts against Cuban enterprises, many linked to military and intelligence services, will be permitted beginning on March 19. But Washington will keep in place until at least April 17 a ban on legal action against foreign firms using property confiscated by the Cuban government since the 1959 revolution, the State Department said.

The bad news is that Americans who had their properties in Cuba stolen will only be able to sue Cuban entities owned by the Castro family dictatorship. Any lawsuits against a lawless and rogue regime like the Cuban dictatorship is at best symbolic. The Castro dictatorship does not respect the rule of law, let alone U.S. or international law.

The good news is this restriction on suing foreign companies is only for 30 days. The Trump administration has left the option open to expand those who can be sued beyond just the Cuban dictatorship.

We can only help this is just one of many steps that will be taken in the near future to hold the Castro regime accountable for its criminal acts. Otherwise, it’s just a show.