Trump Administration to allow lawsuits for property seized by Cuba

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Trump Administration to allow lawsuits for property seized by CubaCORAL GABLES, FLORIDA – APRIL 17: National Security Advisor John R. Bolton speaks during the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association luncheon at the Biltmore Hotel on April 17, 2019 in Coral Gables, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

The United States is reversing course on Cuba, announcing a series of measures escalating tensions with Havana. National Security Adviser John Bolton outlined policy changes in the most dramatic tightening of the U.S. embargo on Cuba in decades.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez filed this report from Miami.

Bolton outlined how a law from 1996, suspended by previous presidents, would be enforced. The law allows Americans who’ve had property confiscated by the Cuban government to sue.

“Americans who have had their private and hard-earned property stolen in Cuba will finally be allowed to sue,” Bolton said. “Anyone who traffics in property stolen from Americans will not be issued a visa to the United States. They are not welcome here.” 

This could unleash a sea of lawsuits against global companies, from Spanish corporations running hotels to Chinese and Turkish firms operating in Cuban ports. Alberto Navarro, the European Union ambassador to Cuba, reacted to the news.

“The extraterritorial application of the U.S. embargo is illegal. It is contrary to international law. I also personally consider it immoral,” Navarro said. “In these 70 years, the only thing that the embargo has contributed is suffering for the Cuban people. It has not contributed in any way to the opening of Cuba, or to steps toward democracy or human rights.”

The EU and Canada both pledged to defend their corporations from lawsuits. Further, travel restrictions eased during the Obama administration, have tightened back up.

“We are also announcing that the Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict non-family travel to Cuba, or in other words, ‘veiled tourism.’ These new measures will help steer American dollars away from the Cuban regime, or its military and security services, who control the tourism industry in Cuba, ” said Bolton during his speech in Miami. 

There would also be new limitations for the Cubans who rely on remittances from family members in the United States: $1,000 per person, per quarter. 

It’s not surprising that Miami was the location for Bolton’s announcement, before a friendly anti-Castro group including many Cuban exiles. They are an important constituency for President Trump, in the country’s largest swing state, as he eyes a second-term election win in 2020.

Bolton also unveiled new economic sanctions against Venezuela and Nicaragua, other nations he said make up a “Troika of Tyranny” along with Cuba.

For the Trump administration, this tightening is a campaign promise fulfilled. For the Cuban government and its people, it could be a devastating blow to an already stagnant economy, struggling to attract foreign investment.