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The impact of Helms-Burton one year after the activation of Title III by the Trump Government

| News | Cuban Desk

Ignacio Aparicio analyses the impact of Trump's decision on the assets confiscated by Fidel in Cuba

In May last year, United States President Donald Trump authorized the entry into force of Title 3 of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. This allowed Americans who had assets of any kind, land, property or business interests confiscated in Cuba by the 1959 Revolution to sue the companies and citizens who had benefited from their properties, in United States federal courts. An American justice commission (the Foreign Claim Settlement Commission "FCSC") had calculated at the time that there could be thousands of lawsuits. Only the number of those that would have some enforceability according to that body could be 5,913 ("certified claims").

More than a year later, of those certified claims, only 9 lawsuits were opened in the U.S. courts to claim damages for the "improper" use of those assets confiscated by Fidel Castro (photo) and another 20 that the FCSC had not been aware of. Moreover, they are being systematically rejected by the courts. "People who want to prove that they own or have some right to property in Cuba need to obtain documents from Cuba to prove their property rights, but this is proving very difficult," says Ignacio Aparicio, a Spanish lawyer with the Andersen firm in Madrid. "In addition, it is often difficult to prove full heirship status for the claimants, whose property was once expropriated.

Trump's attitude has had at least two consequences on the communist island. One is to reduce investment, as foreign entrepreneurs and those who finance their investments have begun to fear lawsuits for benefiting from other people's property. The other effect is related to Title 4 of the Helms-Burton Act. As a result, some directors of Spanish companies with investments on the island have been blocked from entering the United States.

In February, the director of the Spanish hotel chain Meliá, Gabriel Escarrer, received a letter prohibiting him from entering the United States. The chain has 37 hotels on the island and plans to open two more by 2022.

Spain is the country with the most companies being sued in U.S. courts due to the application of the Helms-Burton Act. In addition to Meliá, among the Spanish defendant companies present on the island are NH, Iberostar and BBVA.

You can see the article in Crusoé

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