WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is lifting a long-standing ban in opposition to U.S. residents submitting lawsuits in opposition to overseas firms that use properties seized by Cuba’s Communist authorities since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A Cuban flag hangs outdoors a resort in Havana, Cuba, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Picture

The main coverage shift, which the State Division mentioned may draw tons of of hundreds of authorized claims price tens of billion of {dollars}, is meant to accentuate stress on Havana at a time Washington is demanding an finish to Cuban help for Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

However President Donald Trump’s resolution, which was shortly denounced by Cuba as “an assault on worldwide legislation,” may additionally additional pressure financial relations with U.S. allies in Europe and Canada, whose firms have important pursuits on the island.

“Any individual or firm doing enterprise in Cuba ought to heed this announcement,” Pompeo mentioned at a information convention.

“Cuba’s habits within the Western Hemisphere undermines the safety and stability of nations all through the area, which straight threatens United States nationwide safety pursuits,” he mentioned.

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Trump’s nationwide safety adviser, John Bolton, will talk about the administration’s resolution in a speech on Wednesday in Miami, the place he may also announce new sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, nations he has branded a “troika of tyranny,” a senior U.S. official mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity.

Trump determined to permit a legislation that has been suspended since its creation in 1996 to be absolutely activated, allowing Cuban-Individuals and different U.S. residents to sue overseas firms doing enterprise in Cuba over property seized in many years previous by the Cuban authorities.

Title III of the Helms-Burton Act had been absolutely waived by each president over the previous 23 years because of opposition from the worldwide neighborhood and fears it may create chaos within the U.S. courtroom system with a flood of lawsuits.

“I strongly reject the announcement of State Secretary Pompeo,” Cuba’s Overseas Minister Bruno Rodriguez mentioned in a message on Twitter. “That is an assault on worldwide legislation and the sovereignty of Cuba and third states. Aggressive escalation of #USA in opposition to #Cuba will fail.”

The transfer, which may deal a blow to the Cuban authorities’s efforts to draw overseas funding, marks an extra step by Trump to roll again components of the historic opening to Cuba, an previous Chilly Warfare foe, beneath his predecessor, Barack Obama.

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Pompeo mentioned the Obama administration had performed “a sport of footsie with the Castros’ junta” and accused the Cuban authorities of widespread human rights abuses. “Detente with the regime has failed,” he advised reporters.

PUSHBACK FROM EU, CANADA

Among the many overseas firms closely invested in Cuba are Canadian mining agency Sherritt Worldwide Corp and Spain’s Melia Lodges Worldwide SA. U.S. firms, together with airways and cruise firms, have cast enterprise offers in Cuba for the reason that easing of restrictions beneath Obama.

It was unclear, nonetheless, how such property claims, a few of which contain advanced authorized issues, will fare in U.S. courts.

“The EU will contemplate all choices at its disposal to guard its legit pursuits, together with in relation to its WTO rights and thru using the EU Blocking Statute,” EU overseas coverage chief Federica Mogherini and EU Commerce Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom mentioned in a joint assertion.

A joint EU-Canada assertion mentioned the U.S. transfer was “regrettable” and may have an “essential affect on legit EU and Canadian financial operators in Cuba.”Kim Breier, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, mentioned the administration had been in shut contact with allies in Europe and elsewhere earlier than the Cuba resolution and {that a} “huge quantity” of European companies working there wouldn’t have any issues.

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She mentioned, nonetheless, {that a} U.S. authorities fee has licensed practically 6,000 claims for property confiscated in Cuba with a present worth, together with curiosity, of about $eight billion.

“There might be as much as 200,000 uncertified claims … and that worth may very simply be within the tens of billions of {dollars},” Breier added. “It’ll rely upon whether or not claimants resolve to pursue authorized instances or not.”

U.S. officers left little question that the Helms-Burton resolution, which takes impact on Could 2, is a part of the Trump administration’s effort to power Cuba to desert Maduro, one thing Havana has insisted it is not going to do.

Washington says Havana’s safety and intelligence help is important to Maduro’s grip on energy amid Venezuela’s financial and political disaster.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies earlier than a Senate overseas Relations Committee listening to on the State Division funds request in Washington, U.S. April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Picture

Venezuelan opposition chief Juan Guaido invoked the structure in January to imagine the interim presidency.

The US and most Western nations have backed Guaido as head of state. Maduro, backed by Cuba, Russia, China and the Venezuela navy, has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet who’s in search of to foment a coup.

Trump’s toughened stance on Cuba in addition to Venezuela has gone down nicely within the massive Cuban-American neighborhood in south Florida, an essential voting bloc in a political swing state as he appears towards his re-election marketing campaign in 2020.

Further reporting by Makini Brice and Doina Chiacu in Washington, Sarah Marsh in Havana,Philip Blenkinsop and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels, Modifying by Meredith Mazzilli and Tom Brown

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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