The Trump administration on
Monday took the historic step of implementing Cuba
administration is temporarily permitting U.S. citizens whose property was
stolen by the Castro regime to pursue legal action.
From March 19 to April 17, Americans
will be able to sue 205 Cuban companies that are owned and/or operated by the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.
Penalizing the Cuban regime
serves two purposes right now. It addresses the longstanding issue of
uncompensated claims, and it also punishes the regime for the destabilizing
role it has long played in Venezuela.
The Cuba sanctions were originally
codified in 1996 under the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, but
since its enactment, U.S. administrations have suspended enforcement of the
sanctions component of the law, known as Title III.
Full enforcement of the law
would permit Americans whose property was seized without compensation by the
Castro regime to bring legal action against any foreign company operating
inside of Cuba.
Monday’s actions constitute a partial enforcement, as legal action can only be brought against Cuban regime companies on the U.S.’ Cuba Restricted List.
According to the State
Department, every one of these companies is “under the control of,
or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security
services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would
disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the
Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba.”
Valued at nearly $8 billion, Cuba’s
illegal confiscation of American property and assets is considered to be
the “largest uncompensated taking of American property by a foreign government
The total value of assets stolen
by the regime is even higher, as those figures don’t include American citizens
who were Cuban nationals at the time their property was taken.
The timing of Monday’s
announcement should send a strong message to the regimes in Cuba and Venezuela,
and to the international community working to resolve Venezuela’s crisis.
Havana has played a key role
in Venezuela’s collapse. In exchange for oil and other resources, Cuba has
provided Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Caracas with a world-class police state.
Throughout Venezuela, Cuba has protected Maduro with a network of intelligence officers, political advisers, and security officials. The Cubans have shared their “best practices,” which have enabled their own regime’s longevity.
Some falsely believe that the
slow trickle of defections from the Venezuelan military indicates continuing strong
support for Maduro. The more probable explanation is rooted in Cuba’s extensive
counterintelligence system within Venezuela.
Defections and betrayals come
at a high cost, not only to the military officials, but to the families left
behind. Venezuela currently has the most political
prisoners of any country in the Western Hemisphere—even more than
Getting Maduro to step aside requires making it more costly for Cuba to continue enabling his dictatorship.
The recent U.S. actions
demonstrate U.S. policy is correct in linking both issues. It’s now time for
international partners and allies to ratchet up the pressure as well.
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