Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton outlined the new measures in a speech on Wednesday in Miami, announcing the lifting of the suspension of Helm-Burton law’s Titles III and IV, which would allow filing lawsuits against foreign companies operating in Cuba.
The restraints under the Helms-Burton Law have prevented lawsuits from U.S. citizens seeking compensation for property expropriated by the Cuban revolutionary government that seized power there six decades ago.
Through Title III, U.S. citizens could sue in their country’s courts those who "traffic" with institutions in Cuba that were nationalized after January 1, 1959, when the Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro defeated the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
Bolton also announced new sanctions against Venezuela and Nicaragua that will bar parts of their banking systems from U.S. dollar transactions.
The actions are the latest move in President Trump’s efforts to roll back the Obama administration’s openings to Havana, and to punish Cuba for its support for the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The US government has vowed to replace Maduro as president, and in that regard, has placed all its support behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president and charged that tens of thousands of Cuban military and intelligence agents are enabling Maduro to stay in power.
According to Bolton, the new sanctions against Venezuela’s Central Bank should be a “strong warning to all external actors, including Russia,” which has provided financial support to Venezuela, sold military equipment to its government, and last month deployed about 100 military personnel there.
In his Miami speech today to the Bay of Pigs veterans group, on the anniversary of the failed CIA-orchestrated invasion of the island in 1961, Bolton said, “Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.” The 1823 doctrine holds that the United States will not tolerate foreign intrusions anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.
“The walls are closing in,” Bolton said of pressure against Maduro. “There is no turning back. The people will prevail. And when they do, we know that Cuba will be next. And soon after, we pray, the third member of the Troika, Nicaragua, will also at last be free.”
In a Miami speech last November, just before the U.S. midterm elections, Bolton referred to the three countries as the “Troika of Tyranny.” On Wednesday, he called them “the three stooges of socialism.”
Since President Bill Clinton’s administration (1993-2001), U.S. has avoided the implementation of Title III by issuing “temporary” six-month suspensions.
This has been the usual practice because the full implementation of the Helm-Burton law would imply massive damages not only for Cuba but also for the companies from the U.S, the European Union (EU) and Canada.
The Trump administration, however, announced that, as of March 19, it would allow the filling of lawsuits against more than 200 Cuban companies included in a unilateral list of sanctions.
April 17-19, 1961: CIA-organized invasion of #socialist #Cuba at the Bay of Pigs (#PlayaGiron) is defeated in 72 hours. Cuba’s victory was the first military defeat of U.S. #imperialism in Latin America. pic.twitter.com/mIIJDhgyEg— Greg Butterfield (@redguard1971) April 17, 2019
Lawyer Robert Muse told Prensa Latina that everything indicates that President Trump does seek to implement Title III against foreign companies operating in Cuba. He added that the U.S. government could also apply Title IV, which allows the U.S. to deny visas to foreign businessmen investing in nationalized properties in Cuba.
Muse also considers that Bolton could push for a tougher restriction on travel by U.S. citizens to the island through the imposition of spending limits; or the inclusion of Cuba in the Department of State’s list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Reacting to President Trump’s threats, the European Commission (EC) said Wednesday that it is "prepared" to protect the interests of EU companies in Cuba.
"The EU is prepared to protect European interests, including European investments and economic activities of individuals and entities in their relations with Cuba, if they were to be affected," Alexander Winterstein, the EU Commission spokesman, said and pointed out that the EU strongly opposes the "extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures which are contrary to international law."
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini also warned that the bloc could sue the U.S. before the World Trade Organization (WTO) if Washington implemented those measures.
In fact, the EU already sued the U.S. before the WTO two decades ago, when the Helms-Burton law was passed but withdrew its complaint once the White House agreed to suspend Title III.
The U.S. measures against Cuba will come into force as of May 2, when the last suspension of Title III expires.
"Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement," the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
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