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Message-Id: <199802271837.NAA07269@hermes.circ.gwu.edu>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 98 23:18:08 CST
From: iatp@iatp.org
Subject: NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor Vol. 5, Number 4
Article: 28780

Continuing Conflicts over Cuba

From NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor, Vol. 5, no. 4
20 February 1998

The January 21-25 papal visit to Cuba did not result in any softened position on the enforcement of the U.S. Helms-Burton law, which imposes sanctions on trade with Cuba. Congressional supporters of Helms-Burton threatened in early February to hold up the expected nomination of Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Jeff Davidow as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, saying they wanted "to use the nomination to try to focus the Administration" on enforcing Title III and Title IV of the Helms-Burton law.

While the Pope criticized the Cuban government for the jailing of political opponents, he also condemned the United States for its 36-year economic embargo of Cuba. In a "special gesture" to the Pope, Cuban President Fidel Castro pardoned 300 prisoners in early February.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told the Senate on February 3 that the Clinton administration would ignore Cuba until the current political order there was ended.

Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat and European Union External Relations Commissioner Leon Brittan met on February 3 in ongoing negotiations over the EU-U.S. dispute over Helms-Burton. The EU has challenged the law before the World Trade Organization, but has suspended its challenge during negotiations. Specific EU objections center on the law's provision authorizing civil lawsuits against foreign firms investing in property in Cuba that was once owned by U.S. citizens or corporations and denying U.S. visas to executives of such foreign firms and their families. The United States and the EU also are trying to work out disciplines on expropriated property that would be acceptable to all signatories of the Multilateral Agreement on Investments.

The EU recently moved forward with economic initiatives to link small and medium-sized businesses in Europe and Cuba. According to European Commission Delegation ambassador to the U.S. Hugo Paeman, the initiative is in compliance with the EU policy on encouraging democracy in Cuba.

Helms-Burton Backers to Delay Mexico Ambassador Nomination, INSIDE U.S. TRADE, February 6, 1998;

Helms, Gilman Staffers Urge Move to Kill Helms-Burton Talks, INSIDE U.S. TRADE, February 13, 1998;

Dalia Acosta, Castro Grants 300 Pardons in Gesture Towards Pope, INTERPRESS SERVICE, February 12, 1998;

Pope's Visit Sparks Debate, CONNECTION TO THE AMERICAS, March 1998;

U.S. Embargo Condemned, Enforced, NAFTA & INTERAMERICAN TRADE MONITOR, November 28, 1997;

Hugo Paeman Letter to Stuart Eizenstat, reprinted, INSIDE U.S. TRADE, February 13, 1998;

Cuba: Papal Visit Brings Proposals for Changes in U.S. Embargo Law, ECOCENTRAL, February 12, 1998.