Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:
“President Trump’s rejection of over two decades of bipartisan consensus on a key piece of U.S. policy toward Cuba will further isolate the United States from our Latin American and European allies and diminish our ability to promote democracy in Cuba and Venezuela. Sadly, this decision will do nothing to resolve U.S. property claims in Cuba—an important goal toward which we must continue to strive.
“Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all waived Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for so long because they rightly concluded that it would harm U.S. interests, American businesses, and the Cuban people. It will also damage our partnerships with key allies, including Canada and the European Union, by opening up another front in the Trump trade war as it opens the United States to litigation in the WTO. The losers in the latest round of Donald Trump’s cowboy diplomacy will be the American people who will suffer the real-life consequences of retaliatory trade measures.
“And, there are very serious repercussions of this decision on our cooperation with allies in support of democracy in Venezuela. instead of understanding the impact of today’s action on our partners, the Trump Administration has chosen to isolate itself from those in the EU and the Americas with whom we should be coordinating. I urge the President to rethink this ill-advised decision and self-inflicted wound.”
Title III of the Helms-Burton Act allows Americans to file suit in U.S. courts against those “trafficking” in properties confiscated in Cuba. Its reach is extraterritorial and allows suits to move forward against foreign defendants.