U.S. Helms-Burton Act "illegal," says Cuban president

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-06 10:46:37|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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HAVANA, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Tuesday called the Helms-Burton Act an "absurd" and "illegal" attempt by the United States to police global trade.

"The Helms-Burton is absurd, an illegal law. You cannot legislate against the world, or deny the sovereignty of each country," tweeted Diaz-Canel.

The statement came a day after the U.S. government announced a new measure to tighten its six-decade trade embargo against Cuba based on the Helms-Burton Act passed in 1996, which would allow U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies or individuals over property seized from them by the Cuban government.

Following the U.S. announcement, Cuba reassured foreign investors that their projects would be protected in Cuba, and warned companies looking to take advantage of the U.S. move that they would be excluded from potential investment opportunities.

The Helms-Burton Act, named after the legislators that sponsored the bill, contains a precept called Title III that would mire Cuba in the courts by allowing Cubans who fled the island following the 1959 Revolution and settled in the United States to claim rights to properties nationalized or confiscated decades ago.

Since the U.S. Congress passed the law during the Bill Clinton administration, the Title III rule has been waived by every president ever since, including Clinton.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump won office in part with the votes of Miami's Cuban expatriate community, by pledging to stiffen sanctions against the island.

Starting March 19, U.S. courts can process lawsuits against more than 200 Cuban businesses blacklisted by Washington for having ties with the island's military and intelligence services.

"We must hold Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property," said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.