Statements on US enactment of the Helms-Burton Act

On April 17, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration will end the suspension of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act. The implementation of the Helms-Burton Act is a further intensification of the all-sided economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba by the U.S. This action is not only an attack on the Cuban people but also a direct attack on the sovereignty and well-being of third countries including Canada. As such it is an additional serious violation of international law. Statements by Cuba, Global Affairs Canada, European Union, Ottawa Cuba Connections, Venezuela and Mexico on the aggressive measure against Cuba.

Revolutionary Government of Cuba

Today, April 17, is the anniversary of the launching of the United States’ 1961 military invasion at Playa Girón. (Bay of Pigs) The Cuban people’s resolute response in defense of the Revolution and socialism, within only 72 hours, produced the first military defeat of imperialism in America.

Strangely, the date was chosen by the current U.S. government to announce new aggressive measures against Cuba and to reinforce their implementation of the Monroe Doctrine.

CubaContraElBloqueoThe Revolutionary Government rejects, in the strongest terms possible, the decision to now allow action to be taken in U.S. courts against Cuban and foreign entities, and to aggravate impediments to entering the United States faced by leaders and families of companies that legitimately invest in Cuba, in properties that were nationalized. These are actions established in the Helms-Burton Act which was denounced long ago by the international community, and which the Cuban nation has repudiated since its promulgation and implementation in 1996, with the fundamental goal of imposing colonial tutelage on our country.

We repudiate, as well, the decision to reinstate limits on remittances that Cuban residents in the U.S. send to their families and friends, to further restrict travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba, and impose additional financial sanctions.

We strongly denounce references that attacks against U.S. diplomats have occurred in Cuba.

They attempt to justify their actions, as is customary, with lies and coercion.

Army General Raúl Castro stated this past April 10: “Cuba is blamed for all evils, using lies in the worst style of Hitler’s propaganda.”

The U.S. government resorts to slander, to cover up and justify the obvious failure of its sinister coup maneuver, designating in Washington an impostor “President” for Venezuela.

They accuse Cuba of being responsible for the strength and determination shown by the Bolivarian Chavista government, the country’s people, and the civic-military union defending their nation’s sovereignty. They lie shamelessly, alleging that Cuba has thousands of military and security troops in Venezuela, wielding influence, and determining what happens in this sister country.

They have the cynicism to blame Cuba for the economic and social situation Venezuela is facing after years of brutal economic sanctions, conceived and implemented by the United States and their allies, precisely to economically asphyxiate the country and cause suffering within the population.

Washington goes so far as to pressure governments in other countries to attempt to persuade Cuba to withdraw this unlikely supposed military and security aid, and even to stop lending support and solidarity to Venezuela.

The current U.S. government is well-known, within the country itself and internationally, for its unscrupulous use of lies as a tool in domestic and foreign policy. This is an old habit among imperialism’s practices.

The images are still fresh of President George W. Bush, with the support of current National Security John Bolton, indecently lying about supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a lie that served as the pretext to invade this Middle Eastern country.

Recorded in history, as well, are the bombing of the Maine anchored in Havana, and the self-inflicted Gulf of Tonkin incident, episodes that served as pretexts to unleash brutal wars in Cuba and Vietnam.

We cannot forget that the United States used fake insignia painted on the planes that carried out bombings here as a prelude to the Playa Girón invasion, to hide the fact that they were U.S. aircraft.

It should be clear that the U.S. slanders are based on an absolute, deliberate lie. Their intelligence agencies have more than enough evidence, surely more than any other state, to know that Cuba has no troops in Venezuela, and does not participate in military or security operations, even though it is the sovereign right of independent countries to determine how they cooperate in the area of defense, which is not a U.S. prerogative to question.

Those making this accusation have more than 250,000 soldiers and 800 military bases abroad, some of them in our hemisphere.

This government also knows, as Cuba has repeatedly stated publicly, that the more than 20,000 Cuban collaborators, more than 60 per cent women, are undertaking in this South American country the same work currently being done by another 11,000 professionals from our country in 83 nations; contributing to the provision of social basic services, fundamentally in healthcare, which has been recognized by the international community.

It should also be absolutely clear that our firm solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is Cuba’s right as a sovereign state, and also a duty that is part of our tradition and among the irrevocable principles of the Cuban Revolution’s foreign policy.

No threat of reprisal against Cuba, no ultimatum or pressure on the part of the current U.S. government will dissuade the Cuban nation’s internationalist vocation, despite the devastating human and economic damage caused by the genocidal blockade to our people.

It is worth remembering that thuggish threats and ultimatums have been used in the past, when Cuba’s internationalists supported liberation movements in Africa, while the United States supported the opprobrious apartheid regime. Cuba was expected to renounce its solidarity commitments with the peoples of Africa in exchange for a promise of forgiveness, as if the Revolution needed to be pardoned by imperialism.

At that time, Cuba rejected the pressure, as we reject it today, with the greatest disdain.

Army General Raúl Castro recalled this past April 10, “Over 60 years, facing aggression and threats, Cubans have shown the iron will to resist and overcome the most difficult circumstances. Despite its immense power, imperialism does not possess the capacity to break the dignity of a united people, proud of its history and of the freedom conquered with so much sacrifice.”

The Cuban government calls on all members of the international community and U.S. citizens to put an end to this irrational escalation and the hostile, aggressive policy of the Donald Trump government. Member states of the United Nations rightly demand, year after year almost unanimously, an end to this economic war. The peoples and governments of our region must ensure that the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace prevail, for the benefit of all.

The President of the Councils of State and Ministers Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez declared this past April 13, “Cuba continues to have confidence in its strengths, its dignity, and also in the strength and dignity of other sovereign, independent nations. But Cuba also continues to believe in the people of the United States, the homeland of Lincoln, who are ashamed of those who act beyond the boundaries of universal law, in the name of the entire nation.”

Once again, Cuba repudiates the lies and the threats, and reiterates that its sovereignty, independence, and commitment to the cause of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, are not negotiable.

Two days before the commemoration of the 58th anniversary of the victory at Playa Girón, a historic site within our national territory, where mercenary forces backed by imperialism bit the dust of defeat, the Cuban Revolution reiterates its resolute determination to confront the aggressive escalation of the United States, and prevail.

Havana, 17 April 2019

(Granma)

Global Affairs Canada

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued the following statement on April 17 regarding Canadian businesses operating in Cuba and the decision by the United States not to suspend Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996, commonly known as the Helms-Burton Act:

“Canada is deeply disappointed with today’s announcement. We will be reviewing all options in response to this U.S. decision.

“Since the U.S. announced in January it would review Title III, the Government of Canada has been regularly engaged with the U.S. government to raise our concerns about the possible negative consequences for Canadians – concerns that are long-standing and well known to our U.S. partners.

“I have met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to register those concerns. Canadian and U.S. officials have had detailed discussions on the Helms-Burton Act and Canada’s Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act. I have also discussed this issue with the EU.

“I have been in contact with Canadian businesses to reaffirm we will fully defend the interests of Canadians conducting legitimate trade and investment with Cuba.”

(Global Affairs Canada)

European Union

The following joint statement was issued by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative/Vice President; and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, on April 17, regarding the decision of the United States to further activate Title III of the Helms Burton Act:

“In the light of the United States Administration’s decision to not renew the waiver related to Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton (LIBERTAD) Act, the European Union reiterates its strong opposition to the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures that are contrary to international law. This decision is also a breach of the United States’ commitments undertaken in the EU-U.S. agreements of 1997 and 1998, which have been respected by both sides without interruption since then. In those agreements, the U.S. committed to waive Title III of the Helms-Burton Act and the EU, inter alia, suspended its case in the World Trade Organisation against the U.S.

“The EU will consider all options at its disposal to protect its legitimate interests, including in relation to its WTO rights and through the use of the EU Blocking Statute. The Statute prohibits the enforcement of U.S. courts judgements relating to Title III of the Helms-Burton Act within the EU, and allows EU companies sued in the U.S. to recover any damage through legal proceedings against U.S. claimants before EU courts.”

European Union and Canada

The following statement was issued April 17 by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative/Vice President; Chrystia Freeland Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada; and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade:

“The decision by the United States to renege on its longstanding commitment to waive Title III of the Helms-Burton (LIBERTAD) Act is regrettable, and will have an important impact on legitimate EU and Canadian economic operators in Cuba. The EU and 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 in the context of the WTO and by banning the enforcement or recognition of foreign judgements based on Title III, both in the EU and Canada. Our respective laws allow any U.S. claims to be followed by counter-claims in European and Canadian courts, so the U.S. decision to allow suits against foreign companies can only lead to an unnecessary spiral of legal actions.”

Ottawa Cuba Connections

On April 17, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump Administration will end the suspension of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act.

The announcement comes on the 58th Anniversary of the failed military invasion at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, organized by the CIA to overthrow the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro. The U.S. led invasion was defeated by the Cuban people in less than 72 hours.

2016.02.17.Ottawa-Cuba-3cr2The implementation of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act is a further intensification of the all-sided economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba by the U.S. This action is not only an attack on the Cuban people but also a direct attack on the sovereignty and well-being of third countries including Canada. As such it is an additional serious violation of international law.

The Helms-Burton Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 for the sole purpose of restricting Cuba’s economic, commercial and financial relations with third countries, as well as its capacity to attract foreign investment to develop its economy.

Title III authorizes U.S. nationals to bring action before U.S. courts against any foreign citizen that is “trafficking” in U.S. properties that were nationalized in Cuba in the 1960’s. The process by which these properties were nationalized was legitimate which was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court itself. It was found to be in full adherence to not only Cuba’s national legislation but also International Law.

Until now U.S. Presidents have used executive powers to suspend implementation of Title III every six months. This is because it was seen to be a gross violation of international law and the sovereignty of other states and also because the implementation of it hinders any further solution to claims and compensation sought by some U.S. businesses.

This Act has been rejected almost unanimously by the international community at the United Nations, specialized international bodies and regional organizations, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the African Union. Several countries of the EU as well as Canada, Mexico have passed their own national laws to cope with the extraterritorial effects of this Act. Both the EU and Canada have said they will protect the businesses of their nationals harmed by the application of Title III.

For more than 20 years, the Helms-Burton Act has guided the interventionist efforts of anti-Cuban sectors in the U.S. to attack the Republic of Cuba and undermine its sovereignty. By virtue of its implementation, hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to subvert Cuba’s internal order, and countless measures have been proposed to bring about a change of regime. Its economic impact has seriously affected the country’s development efforts as well as the well- being of the population. Thanks to Cuba’s social programs and system of social justice, the ramifications on people’s lives have not been worse.

We join with the Cuban people and peoples of the world in categorically condemning this barbaric, hostile and illegal attack against the Cuban nation. We stand in solidarity with the Cuban people who have faced many difficulties and have always fought with courage and principle to defend their freedom. Fidel declared, “We Cubans are made of iron and can resist the most difficult trials.” This further U.S. attack destined to force regime change in Cuba and take revenge for its continued support of Venezuela against attempts to achieve regime change in that country are bound to fail.

No to Helms-Burton!
End the Illegal U.S. Blockade of Cuba!
Make Sure Canada Opposes Attempts to Impose Title III Against
Canadian Investments in Cuba!

Bolivarian Government of Venezuela

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela strongly rejects the new obsessive and joint acts of aggression and economic war by the U.S. government against the peoples of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, this time under the threat of implementing illegal mechanisms of extraterritorial prosecuting, with the purpose of retaliating against entities making foreign direct investment in Cuba.

As announced by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the entry into force of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, next May 2, represents an escalation of the criminal blockade that, for sixty years, has affected the Cuban people’s sovereignty and human rights and has been condemned, year after year, by an overwhelming vote in the UN General Assembly.

This political decision, encased in a legal instrument of a fraudulent nature, is a judicial aberration intended to expand the extraterritoriality of the unilateral illegal measures to affect Cuba and third countries, in a flagrant new violation of International Law and the United Nations Charter.

The announcement was made on the occasion of the anniversary of the invasion in Playa Girón and reveals the spirit of revenge of the supremacist U.S. ruling elite, who, in complicity with the mafioso Cuban-American lobby, seeks to go back in history to restore the terrible era of shame and exploitation of the pro-imperialist dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Hence, apart from the above infamous announcement, they threaten to resume restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba against U.S. citizens.

The People and Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela express their strong support and active solidarity to the Cuban People and Government, with the conviction that the U.S. attempts to break the dignified, sovereign and victorious Republic of Cuba shall fail again.

As occurred in Playa Girón, U.S. imperialism shall be defeated once more by the unity, conscience and patriotism of the people of Cuba guided by the immortal legacy of Jose Marti and Fidel Castro.

Venezuela shall continue exercising the Bolivarian Diplomacy of Peace to demand the cessation of unilateral coercive measures as an instrument of colonial domination, in defense of the peoples’ independence and self-determination and for the triumph of multilateralism and International Law

(Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, April 18, 2019. English translation slightly edited for style and grammar by TML.)

Government of Mexico

The Government of Mexico regrets the decision of the United States to apply for the first time in history Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which, as of May 2, will allow U.S. citizens to file lawsuits against companies that make use of properties confiscated after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

The measure may affect foreign companies doing business in and with Cuba, so the Mexican government will protect Mexican companies that do or have an interest in doing business with Cuba and could be affected.

As it has done historically, Mexico rejects the application of unilateral trade laws with an extraterritorial character because they violate the norms of international law.

In this regard, Mexico reconfirms its support for the end of the economic and commercial blockade imposed on Cuba.

(Ministry of Foreign Relations, April 17, 2019. Translated from the original Spanish by TML.)

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