By ending once-routine USA presidential waivers of provisions in the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, Cuban exiles will be allowed to sue both private firms and the Havana government for profiting from properties nationalised after Fidel Castro's 1959 communist revolution.
"The EU is ready to protect European interests including European investments and the economic activities of EU individual and entities in their relations with Cuba, " he added. The lawsuits were originally authorized under a 1996 law known as Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama had extended six-month waivers for 23 years because the lawsuits were seen as disruptive, likely ineffective, and particularly damaging to USA allies in Europe.
Thus, EU courts could allow European firms to claim any losses caused by the lawsuits over Cuba, as the 50 largest potential claimants, representing more than 70 percent of the value of claims, have assets on the EU territory.
National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected to announce further penalties against Cuba during an address to the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Miami to mark the 58th anniversary of the failed effort to topple Fidel Castro's government.
"Before they try to euphorically ride a wave of wickedness and lies, they should take a dose of reality".
Bolton "will announce the enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act", a United States official said.
The 1996 act gave Americans the right to sue the mostly European companies. "For 60 years the only thing that's resulted from the embargo is the suffering of the Cuban people".
When the US law came went into force in 1996, then-president Bill Clinton postponed the implementation of Title III; until now, every subsequent president has followed suit, renewing the exemption every six months. Cuba has said it is willing to reimburse the owners of confiscated properties, but only if the communist government is also reimbursed for billions of dollars in damages generated by the six-decade USA trade embargo.
The announcement also comes at a moment of severe economic weakness for Cuba, which is struggling to find enough cash to import basic food and other supplies following a drop in aid from Venezuela and a string of bad years in other key economic sectors. "It will not cause people who are invested in Cuba already to pull out now", said Phil Peters, director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Cuba Research Center, who advocated for closer relations with Cuba and has consulted for USA companies looking to invest.
The U.S. official said the administration also plans to start enforcing the section of the act that allows the U.S.to deny entry visas to Cubans and citizens of other countries involved in trafficking in the confiscated property.