Cuba’s state newspaper Granma continued its campaign this week against the United States’ decision to allow Americans to sue companies who profit from using their stolen property.
It argued in a column Wednesday that the communist theft was legal because it was a “sovereign” act and the true owners of the properties were “delinquents.”
The administration of President Donald Trump announced in early May that it would finally allow the implementation of Title III of the 1996 Libertad Act – commonly known as “Helms-Burton,” after the law’s authors – after over 20 years of American governments banning Americans from exercising the rights it grants them. The act allows Americans to sue private corporations who profit from the use of property in Cuba that belonged to American citizens before the wave of “nationalizations” under dictator Fidel Castro in the 1960s.
Castro used violence to rob American business owners of an estimated $8.5 billion in hotels, farms, and other properties following the 1959 communist revolution. The Cuban regime has never indemnified its victims and continues to insist the thefts were rightful.
As the robberies occurred decades ago, many of the original owners died without being compensated for their properties, and those taking advantage of the full implementation of Helms-Burton are their descendants.
Lamenting the “increase in aggression and imperialist yanqui arrogance,” the Granma newspaper cited Cuban “experts” on Wednesday who claimed that the Americans who owned the property Castro stole have no legal rights to it.
“The Helms-Burton Law insistently uses terms like ‘confiscated property’ and ‘confiscated goods,'” the newspaper notes, contending that this is different from “nationalization,” which it defines as “an act with which the nation, as per the legal process, can appropriate, for various reasons, private property and hand them to the public treasury.”
“Nationalizations, as acts of the State, are part of the sovereign character of the same and, thus, all States must respect each other’s independence; these constitute acts of economic vindication at the service of the people,” it continues.
The column could have kept to this point, but instead goes on to argue that, even if the thefts were “confiscations,” those were legal because the original owners were criminals under Fidel Castro’s draconian communist rule.
“The confiscation of goods is a judicial act derived from the commission of a crime, before which he who commits it, in addition to the corresponding legal sentence, must respond with his goods, of which he is dispossessed with no right to compensation,” the piece claims, arguing that those who lost property during the Revolution were all tied to Castro’s predecessor and Cuba’s first head of state of color, Fulgencio Batista “and all who collaborated with his tyrannical regime.”
“Thus, when the Helms-Burton law refers to … the trafficking of properties confiscated by the Cuban government, it is safeguarding the delinquents … whose goods were confiscated for committing crimes,” Granma concludes.
Granma uses the piece to also called the American government “interventionist and prideful” for demanding compensation on behalf of its citizens under the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower.
Fidel Castro spent the first few years of his violent takeover of Cuba lying about his Marxist affiliations, wowing America’s entertainment and media elite. Within the first year of the Revolution, however, he began using his armed militias to steal property from U.S. and Cuban citizens under the guise of economic justice.
“In November 1960, Fidel Castro came and just took it over,” Mickael Behn, the rightful owner of the Havana Docks Corporation, told Breitbart News of what was then his grandfather’s property. “He had fought till his passing about two years ago to try to get it back and to try to get the American government to help him and support him to get the money back but all we’ve had is the claim, the Helms-Burton claims,” he said of his grandfather.
Behn and several other representatives of families who owned Cuba’s ports were the first to exercise their Helms-Burton rights this month, suing the American Carnival Cruises corporation for docking its ships in their ports. Carnival signed up to make millions in profits with cruises from the United States to Cuba in 2016, following President Barack Obama’s decision to implement policies friendly towards the Castro regime.
All presidents before Trump agreed to waive Helms-Burton to protect corporations like Carnival.
Roberto Martínez, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida who is part of the team representing the plaintiffs against Carnival, told Breitbart News this month that the legal action is “very significant” for the families hurt by the Revolution’s robberies.
“Let’s think about Europe during World War II, all the property that was looted by the Nazis. Nobody thinks twice about saying, ‘of course that was wrong, they should be compensated,'” he argued. “But because Cuba had, for many years, captured the imagination of some people … I think it was able to fool a lot of people.”
On Friday, Carnival Cruises’ attorneys moved to request the Florida court taking the lawsuit to dismiss it.
International corporations are also in jeopardy of finding themselves in U.S. courts for making money off of stolen American property. Families who rightfully own hotels refurbished by the Spanish corporation Meliá have also brought a lawsuit against the Spanish chain.
“It has been used by a Spanish hotel chain which has not paid them any compensation,” the attorney for one of the families, Andres Rivero, said. “We intend to receive the value of their hotel from the people who are using it without permission.”