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Washington allows cases against Cuban companies

The U.S. State Department announced March 4 that it will allow U.S. claimants to assets seized by Cuba to sue Cuban companies.

The move follows a decision to partially activate Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act for the first time, authorizing U.S. claimants to bring lawsuits in U.S. federal courts from March 19 through April 17 against companies "trafficking" in properties confiscated by the Cuban government after the 1959 revolution.

A State Department official said the limited implementation of Title III only targets entities and sub-entities under control of Cuban military intelligence or security forces, and does not allow litigation against foreign companies doing business in Cuba.

Previous U.S. presidents have fully suspended Title III on a rotating six-month basis due to international opposition, according to Reuters.

Following the 30-day period, the Trump administration will assess the impact of the partial lifting of the Title III suspension and consider whether a further suspension is necessary, the State Department official said.

Reuters noted that if the suspension is fully lifted, legal claims worth billions of dollars could be filed in U.S. courts, and that U.S. ties with Canada and Europe, which have major business exposure to Cuba, could also be affected.