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The White House

One year ago, the Trump administration announced the activation for the first time of a provision in the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 that allows U.S. nationals to sue companies that “traffic” in property expropriated by the Cuban government after the start of the Cuban Revolution. Congress enacted the provision, known as Title III, to allow “American citizens to recover damages from foreign investors who are profiting from their stolen property in Cuba.” But Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (and initially President Donald Trump) suspended application of Title III for more than 20 years from 1996 to 2019. Prior administrations (including the George W. Bush administration, in which I served as the legal adviser for the Department of State, where I was responsible for the implementation of the Helms-Burton Act) believed that activating Title III would produce a flood of complex lawsuits in U.S. courts and cause diplomatic friction with close allies.

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