FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs for travel to Texas from the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration will allow lawsuits in U.S. courts for the first time against foreign companies in communist-ruled Cuba that use properties confiscated from Cuban Americans and other U.S. citizens during the revolution that began in the 1950s, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.
The move, which will be announced on Wednesday, could expose U.S., European and Canadian companies to legal action, dealing a blow to Cuba’s efforts to attract more foreign investment. It is also another sign of Washington’s efforts to punish Havana over its support for Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday will explain the administration’s decision in Miami on Wednesday and will also announce new sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Trump is acting on a threat issued in January to allow a controversial law that has been suspended since its creation in 1996, permitting U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies over property seized in the 1960s by the Cuban government.
The State Department plans to allow to go into effect a provision known as Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. It had been fully waived by every president over the past 23 years due to opposition from the international community and fears it could create chaos in the U.S. court system with a flood of lawsuits.
The complete lifting of the ban could allow billions of dollars in legal claims to move forward in U.S. courts and likely antagonize Canada and U.S. European partners, whose companies have significant business holdings in Cuba.
It could also affect some U.S. companies that began investing in the island, an old Cold War foe, since former President Barack Obama began a process of normalizing relations between the two countries from the end of 2014.
U.S.-Cuban relations have nosedived since Trump became president, partially rolling back the detente initiated by Obama and reverting to Cold War rhetoric. A six-decade U.S. economic embargo on Cuba has also remained officially intact.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum