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US announces Cuba property law despite EU warnings

WASHINGTON, (AFP): The United States said Wednesday that a long-delayed law would go into effect next month that allows lawsuits over property seized by Cuba and that it issue make no exemptions for angered Europeans.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the 1996 measure — systematically delayed every six months by successive administrations — would go into effect on May 2.

“Any person or company doing business in Cuba should heed this announcement,” Pompeo told reporters.

Under the provision of the so-called Helms-Burton Act, any companies that operate in property seized by Cuba during Fidel Castro’s 1959 communist revolution will be able to file lawsuits in US courts.

Pompeo called on all businesses that hold buildings in Cuba to “fully investigate whether they are stolen in service of a failed communist experiment.”

“I encourage our friends and allies alike to follow our lead and stand with the Cuban people,” he said.

European nations, which have wide commercial dealings in Cuba, have long opposed the Helms-Burton Act.

In a letter ahead of the announcement, the European Union warned Pompeo that enforcement of the law would lead to reprisals in Europe.

Kimberly Breier, the top US diplomat for Latin America, said the United States would not issue any exemptions to the new law.

But she said businesses would only be affected if they operate in properties seized from Cubans who have emigrated to the United States.

“I think the vast number of European companies will not have any concerns operating in Cuba,” she said.

(US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces new measures against Cuba’s government. Photo: AFP)

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