On April 17, 2019, the White House announced its decision to lift the suspension of the portion of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, 22 USC §§ 6021-6091, that provides for a private right of action for US citizens to sue foreign companies “trafficking” in property formerly owned by the US citizens and confiscated by the Cuban regime. Although the law, also called the Libertad Act, has been in effect since 1996, the provision that allows US citizens and companies to sue for lost property has been suspended by every US administration until now.
Several suits were filed on the first day the suspension was lifted. They include a complaint by Exxon Mobil Corporation against Corporación CIMEX S.A. and Unión Cuba-Petróleo asking for compensation for expropriated refineries and service stations still operating in Cuba, and a complaint by the former owner of an 82.5% interest in commercial waterfront property in Santiago de Cuba, against Carnival Corporation, for using the property to embark and disembark cruise passengers beginning in May 2016.
The plaintiffs’ claims are supported in whole or in part by certification by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.