Helms-Burton Act

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The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act 1996: an Act of the US Congress under which nationals of third states dealing with US property expropriated by the Cuban revolutionary state, using such property, or benefiting by it may be sued for damages before American courts and even face being barred from entry into the United States. The Act was approved by President Clinton in response to the shooting down by the Cuban Air Force of two light aeroplanes flown by a Cuban-American Organization based in Florida in February 1996. Despite the broad powers in Helms–Burton, no suit was filed in a US court during the Clinton era because the president had suspended that portion of the legislation (Title III) before it took effect and renewed his suspension every six months, as the law allows, until the end of his term. President Clinton's decision to suspend Title III came after the European Union and Canada announced their opposition to the Act. They argued the provisions violate international trade treaties by punishing foreign companies for business conducted outside US borders. The EU brought its case to the World Trade Organization, but dropped its legal challenge in 1998. The USA and EU are still working toward an agreement on the issue. In July 2001 President Bush enacted a six-month waiver of provisions of the 1996 Act that would allow lawsuits against foreign companies who deal with Cuban businesses once claimed by US nationals.

Subjects: Law.

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