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Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 12:19:09 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: Helms-Burton Arouses Worldwide Anger

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the July 25, 1996 issue of Workers World newspaper

U.S. vs. Cuba: Helms-Burton Act Arouses Worldwide Anger

By Teresa Gutierrez, in Workers World, 25 July 1966

The Clinton administration started implementing the reactionary Helms-Burton Act July 10 by informing high-level executives and shareholders of Sherritt International, a Canadian nickel mining company, that they and their families would be barred from the United States for doing business with Cuba.

Ottawa immediately protested the new law. Charles Larabie, spokesperson from the Canadian Department of Trade, said he considered the U.S. measure "offensive to the international trade system."

In addition, Canadian non-governmental organizations and churches announced their intention to boycott tourism in Florida. Spokespeople from OXFAM-Canada, the group leading the campaign, say that it will urge Canadians not to choose Florida as their vacation destination.

Applying Helms-Burton has aroused protest against the U.S. government for violating the sovereignty of countries where companies have investments in Cuba. Many world bodies— including the Organization of American States, the United Nations General Assembly, the European Commission—have condemned the law.

On July 15, the European Union agreed on steps to retaliate against Washington. EU ministers ordered ambassadors from the 15 member countries to start preparing counter-measures.

These include boycotting U.S. companies, requiring visas for U.S. business travelers, taking the matter to the World Trade Organization, and compiling a list of corporations that file suit under the law.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration also announced that executives from Mexican and Italian telephone companies operating in Cuba would be informed later this week that they would be barred from visiting the United States. Children of these executives will be forbidden to visit or study here.


The Helms-Burton Act’s real teeth are in the provision that allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies and individuals in U.S. courts for profiting from property confiscated by the Cuban government.

On July 16, the Clinton administration announced a six- month delay on these lawsuits. The White House claims that this provision of Helms-Burton refers to 5,911 properties purportedly owned by U.S. individuals or corporations that were seized by the Cuban Revolution. The White House claims more than 100 foreign companies are using these properties.

Clinton has now imposed a moratorium until Feb. 1 on filing the lawsuits. During these six months U.S. citizens can hire attorneys and prepare the cases but cannot file.

In the past, Washington has gone so far as to say that companies that deal with these properties are "traffickers stealing from U.S. citizens."

A look at the history of the confiscation’s shows this could not be further from the truth. When the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959 it began to carry out actions fundamental to guaranteeing that Cuban workers control society for the benefit of Cuba’s population.

The Cuban Revolution expropriated factories, land and other property that multinational corporations had controlled or owned. It offered to compensate U.S.-based corporations based on the book value of these properties. The imperialist corporations had insisted these values be kept low to minimize taxes paid to pre-revolutionary Cuba, and all U.S. corporations refused the compensation.

The Revolution took also property from which Cuba’s bourgeoisie, doing the bidding of U.S. corporations, had made billions of dollars. This stopped the plunder. Almost all of Cuba’s old ruling class wound up in Miami and are now U.S. citizens.

Now the property in Cuba is controlled and owned by the people. The wealth the workers produce is used for the benefit of all of society, not for a tiny rich elite. This principle has earned forever the ire of the U.S. imperialists.

Helms-Burton aims to overturn the economic relations established by the Cuban Revolution. With the massive May Day demonstration this year targeting Helms-Burton, the Cuban people showed again that they refuse to allow that to happen.