The US and Its Unfulfilled Promise to Reestablish Relations with Cuba

By Alejandra Garcia on May 31, 2021, from Havana

On Monday, Swiss-based construction materials multinational LafargeHolcim settled a lawsuit seeking compensation for the use of its properties, nationalized by the Cuban government in the 1960s.

The heirs of a Cuban family, who used to own the property, sued the European company under Title III of the U.S. Helms-Burton Act (1996), which allows them to pursue claims against entities that benefit from Cuban properties that were privately owned before the 1959 Revolution and have since been nationalized.

This is the first resolution of a lawsuit brought by Cuban descendants since Donald Trump’s administration enabled Title III in May 2019, along with 243 other unilateral measures aimed at stifling the economy and a change of political system on the island.

Sixty-two years after the Cuban Revolutionary triumphed, the Clafin family could receive up to US$140 million from LafargeHolcim, a Swiss company that in the year 2000 invested the cement factory called “Soledad Sugar Company,” which was renamed Karl Marx after 1959.

“This victory should serve as a deterrent to all those who are contemplating entering or maintaining a complicit relationship with Cuba’s brutal dictatorship,” the director of the Miami-based Patria de Marti organization, Julio M. Shiling, said after learning the news.

The venom towards Cuba, flowing from Florida, is overflowing. Since 2019, nearly 40 cases have been filed by Cuban-Americans living in Miami seeking to receive million-dollar amounts for properties that once belonged to their second- or third-generation relatives. Most of the lawsuits have been against tourism companies, such as Spanish hotel corporations.

While a small group of Cuban descendants rummage through their family tree searching for relatives with property nationalized in the early years of the Revolution, President Joe Biden is doing nothing to contain the anti-Cuban hatred entrenched by Trump.

“It was known that Biden would not be Obama and that lifting Trump’s sanctions and resuming the rapprochement policy of the previous Democratic president could take time. But no one imagined things could go so wrong. Almost five months after his arrival at the White House, not a single measure to tighten the blockade adopted by Trump has been lifted,” journalist Mauricio Vincent reported in El Pais.

Washington adds new reproaches to the island’s government to justify its lack of interest in the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. This week, the Biden administration reaffirmed that “Havana does not fully cooperate in the fight against terrorism, so it will remain on our list of countries that sponsor this scourge.”

Placing Cuba on that blacklist was the last nail that Trump stuck against Cuba last January 11, when he already had one foot out of the White House. Today, the new president continues to shore up hostilities and hammer down on every sanction against the Island.

The “hunger strike” of a so-called Cuban “artist”, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, who receives instructions from Washington, also led Washington to condemn “the detention of artists for exercising their freedom of expression” and to add new reasons to continue justifying its stand towards the Island.  After his hunger strike, Otero Alcantara´s health is being monitored in a Cuban hospital.

“Little remains of the initial expectations. Day by day we return to the bitter rhetoric of the Trump era, and Obama’s normalization is no longer spoken of: for Cuba, Biden is the present and the past,” Vincent added.

However, the Cuban political scene remains strong. The government is advancing its mass immunization campaign with its home-grown vaccines. The merit of this effort is enormous, considering that scientists and authorities have faced an unprecedented health crisis amid extreme shortages.

Contrary to the desires of Biden, Trump, and the successive U.S. administrations, the island is not alone. Every day, social networks are filled with posts of solidarity towards Cuba and its people from all corners of the globe.

“Biden, we are still waiting for you to fulfill your promise,” reads a sign that was placed outside the White House next to a Cuban flag, while caravans in the US and around the world regularly express the sentiments of the vast majority of people of the world demanding an end to the blockade.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English