Bush keeps ban on US-Cuba land suits

Campaign News | Friday, 14 January 2005

Despite advice of some officals Bush maintains waiver on controversial law

WASHINGTON - Despite pressure not to do so from some of his officials, President Bush notified Congress on Friday 14 that he would maintain a ban on lawsuits by US citizens whose property was allegedly taken by the Cuban revolution.

Bush said in a letter that the action was "necessary to the national interests of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba."

The lawsuit provision was included in the 1996 Helms-Burton law aimed at choking off investments by thrid countries in Cuba.

Secretary of State Colin Powell recommended that Bush renew the waiver, but some officials urged that the provision be allowed to lapse, thus opening the way to lawsuits.

Bush and President Clinton have exercised the waiver at six-month intervals since the law was passed in March 1996.

A refusal to waive would give Americans the right to sue any individual, investor or business using property that was nationalised after the revolutionary government took power in 1959.

It is believed that a number of suits would be filed against foreign companies that are doing business in Cuba.

A failure to waive would complicate relations with European and other countries as it would be an extra territorial application of US law and therefore illegal under international law.

The Helms-Burton law was financed by the Bacardi company which once had large interests in Cuba and has long expressed its determination to ge tthem back.


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