|Monday, 14 March 2016 14:10|
On February 29, The Washington Examiner published an article discussing the President’s recent announcement about his upcoming visit to Cuba. In “US-Cuba Thaw Ignores Embargo” the author examines the many aspects of US-Cuba relations that have yet to be addressed by the Obama administration.
Not only has the president allowed for more travel to the island, he has granted commercial flights and ferry services, as well as allowing the first American factory to open in Cuba. The one crucial factor of the embargo that the President has yet to address are the 5,913 certified property claims against Cuba. The article explains;
“At the time of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Americans and American companies were the largest foreign investors on the island. The new Cuban communist government seized that property, regardless of who owned it.
Some American companies lost millions of dollars in property, and many more individuals lost plantations and homes, some passed down through generations.”
The embargo against Cuba cannot be lifted until the Cuban government has paid for the confiscated property, as outlined under the 1996 Helms-Burton Act.
"Nothing has been done on the one issue that we put defenses in place to deal with, which is the property issue," said Jason Poblete, whose law firm Poblete Tamargo represents several claimants. "You can't really avoid it because it's the reason that the embargo was put in place in the first place.”
This issue goes beyond the claimants as those hoping to do business in Cuba should consider the legal consequences of conducting business on stolen property. Under US law, it is illegal to do business on confiscated property. It is clear that the Obama administration is continuing to ignore the issue of property claims in its negotiations with the Castro Regime.
"The settling of claims is pretty much the linchpin in all of this because you can't drive foreign policy on human rights improvements alone. There are always economic interests," Poblete said.
It is premature for anyone to get excited about the President’s upcoming visit to Cuba. Just like we have seen with the issue of human rights abuses, which have increased since the US and Cuba have begun renewing ties last year, little concrete actions have occurred addressing the issues surrounding the embargo. Discussions and meetings are nice, but until actual changes are made and the President and the administration take concrete action, little has improved in US-Cuba relations.