First US lawsuits filed over use of 'confiscated' Cuban property

Ships from the Carnival cruise line are seen in Nassau Bahamas

Javier Garcia-Bengochea and Havana Docks Corp. each filed suit in a federal court in Miami on the first day that Title III fully entered into force.

US President Donald Trump made a decision to lift the ban against US citizens filing lawsuits against foreign companies that benefited from properties seized by Fidel Castro's government following the 1959 revolution (Title III of the law).

The Helms-Burton Act seeks to compensate those people whose families lost properties and businesses during Cuba's revolution in 1953.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assett Control took that interpretation when it issued licences for Carnival and other companies that travel to and from the U.S. and Cuba, under the Obama Administration.

The possibility that United States courts are literally flooded with economic "claims" and the possible affectations to fundamentally European companies, although also from other countries, has triggered alarms in the EU, not only because of the magnitude of the ambiguous legal concept of "traffic" but also by the pretension of the North American Administration to extraterritorially apply its legislation to third parties.

The other lawsuit is filed in the name of Havana Docks Corporation, a company that claims to be the "legitimate owner of certain commercial real estate" in the Port of Havana, which belongs to Michael Behn.

"The cruise lines have been using Havana Docks port infrastructure for several years without outcome to them", an emotional Mickael Behn, the president of Havana Docks, told members of the media after filing the suit.

The measure that the US Government has just put in place has the clear intention of suffocating the financial possibilities of the Cuban economy, and is preceded by the application, at the end of previous year, of special sanctions to a long and detailed list of Cuban companies, which Washington accused of belonging to the Cuban army.

Sylvia Iriondo organized protests against Carnival Cruise Lines when it started sailing ships to Cuba, as president of the Mothers and Women Against Repression, a Cuban non-governmental organization.

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According to Mogherini, the European Union deeply regrets the move.

"The EU considers that the extra-territorial application of unilateral restrictive measures is illegal under worldwide law", said Mogherini.

The EU also could invoke a so-called "blocking statute", which forbids EU firms from complying with certain U.S. sanctions, allowing them to recover damages and nullifying foreign court rulings against them.

"We don't fear an exodus of investors".

The EU vowed to take "appropriate measures", including at the WTO, against the United States' full implementation of the Helms-Burton Act on Thursday, which would open the way for lawsuits in USA courts over property confiscated by Cuba.

The measures adopted by the USA will undoubtedly have important repercussions on the Cuban population in general given that, since the middle of a year ago, Cuba has faced difficulties in paying the current account for its imports of food and basic goods. which has resulted in the shortage of various products of high demand and a rise in the prices of food products.

All other nations settled their citizens' property claims decades ago, while 5,913 certified US claims by American citizens at the time of expropriation were never settled.

Jose Ramon Lopez Requeiro, whose father Jose Lopez Vilaboy was the main shareholder of the Havana airport before the revolution, is expected to file suit in the coming days against various U.S. airlines.

This morning for the first time the USA government has given these people the opportunity to file a lawsuit in a U.S. court, said Bob Martinez, attorney for both claimants, to journalists at the entrance of the court, according to the agency AFP.

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