US measures against Cuba are unlawful, undermine trust

US measures against Cuba are unlawful, undermine trust

The Helms-Burton Act, which basically punishes USA and foreign companies that do business with Cuba, came into force in 1996, but most US administrations didn't apply Title III until now.

"Today, May 2, 2019, is a historic day", said Civil Trial Lawyer Rodney Margol.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assett Control took that interpretation when it issued licences for Carnival and other companies that travel to and from the U.S. and Cuba, under the Obama Administration.

"The cruise lines have been using Havana Docks port infrastructure for several years without effect to them", an emotional Mickael Behn, the president of Havana Docks, told members of the media after filing the suit.

Carnival, he said, "knew very well the ownership" of the docks in the Cuban capital when they began operating there. "It wasn't a secret to them or anyone else".

"There will be hundreds of lawsuits", said Nick Gutierrez, a lawyer and president of the National Association of Landowners of Cuba, which lobbied heavily for the right to sue in USA courts.

The other plaintiff who sued Thursday, Jacksonville neurosurgeon Javier Garcia-Bengochea, said his family's waterfront property in the Port of Santiago had been seized in 1960.

"So they deserve the ignominious distinction of being the first to be sued under the act", he said during a news conference outside the courthouse. "I began this crusade for the full implementation of Title III nearly 10 years ago", he said.

Canival did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The claims, potentially worth tens of millions of dollars or more, were made under a 1996 sanctions law against Cuba that prohibited "trafficking" in expropriated property.

During Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s earnings call on Wednesday, Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said the Helms-Burton change would likely prompt litigation for companies doing business in Cuba. "Implementing Title III in full means a chance at justice for Cuban Americans who have long sought relief from Fidel Castro and his lackeys seizing property without compensation". In fact, the Department of Justice has already processed and is holding almost 6,000 claims from American citizens about property seized in Cuba.

It also referred to a statement from the Cruise Lines International Association, an industry lobby, saying the operations of cruise lines that do business with Cuba "falls under the lawful travel exemption under Title 3 of the Helms Burton Act".

"The EU considers the extra-territorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to worldwide law and will draw on all appropriate measures to address the effects of the Helms-Burton Act", including at the World Trade Organization and through the use of the EU Blocking Statute, Mogherini said in the statement.

The possibility that U.S. courts are literally flooded with economic "claims" and the possible affectations to fundamentally European companies, although also from other countries, has triggered alarms in the EU, not only because of the magnitude of the ambiguous legal concept of "traffic" but also by the pretension of the North American Administration to extraterritorially apply its legislation to third parties.

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