President Donald Trump‘s administration said Wednesday it was restricting U.S. travel and remittances to Cuba, undoing much of the thaw under former President Barack Obama.
“These new measures will help steer American dollars away from the Cuban regime,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a speech in Miami.
Bolton, addressing veterans of the failed CIA-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, said the United States would restrict travel to the island to family members.
He said that the United States would also impose limits on the money that families can send back to the cash-strapped island.
The measures come hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would allow lawsuits in its courts over property seized after Fidel Castro’s 1959 communist revolution.
The law had been on the books but was systematically suspended every six months amid heated disagreements with the European Union.
The new U.S. policies toward Cuba will discourage investment on the island, punish the Cuban people and impair, further, our relations with our closest allies.
— Carlos Gutierrez (@carlosgutierrez) April 17, 2019
Why This Matters
Cuba on Wednesday rejected Washington’s decision to allow lawsuits in U.S. courts against companies operating in properties seized during the communist revolution in Havana, calling it an “attack.”
“It is an attack against International Law and the sovereignty of #Cuba & third States,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration defied warnings from the European Union by forging ahead with the long-delayed Helms-Burton Act, saying it would go into effect on May 2.
“Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement,” Secretary of State Pompeo told reporters.
The measure was originally passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 but until now had been delayed systematically by each president every six months.
2/2 #EU & #Canada Joint Statement on #HelmsBurton Tittle III activation: “The EU & Canada consider the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures contrary to international law. We are determined to work together to protect the interests of our companies…” pic.twitter.com/mN2sH9Qr05
— Josefina Vidal (@JosefinaVidalF) April 17, 2019
The E.U. has threatened to hit the U.S. with reprisals over the move, according to a letter from foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom to Pompeo.
Under the provision of the Helms-Burton Act, companies that operate in property seized by Cubaduring or after Fidel Castro’s 1959 communist revolution could face lawsuits in U.S. courts from the vast and politically powerful Cuban American diaspora.
“Those doing business in Cuba should fully investigate whether they are connected to property stolen in service of a failed communist experiment,” Pompeo said.
In its letter, the E.U. said it would be “obliged to use all means at its disposal… to protect its interests.”
The E.U. is worried about how the move will affect its companies in Cuba — it is the island nation’s largest foreign investor.
The decision could spark thousands of lawsuits in the US and discourage foreign investment in Cuba, which is in desperate need of capital to boost its stuttering economy, already hampered by U.S. sanctions.
In 2017, it attracted only $2 billion in investments — it needs $5 billion to spark growth.
The U.S. announcement coincides with Wednesday’s anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, a failed attempt in 1961 by the Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow Castro.
Rodriguez said the “aggressive escalation” of US sanctions against Cuba would fail.
“As in Giron we will overcome,” he added, referring to the name Cuba gave the Bay of Pigs invasion.
More on the Subject
“The real purpose of allowing Title III to go into effect is to deter U.S. and foreign business from investing in Cuba for fear of being dragged into U.S. court by a Cuban American who owned property prior to 1959,” William LeoGrande, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of Government at American University, told The Globe Post.