Title III creates a right of action allowing U.S. persons whose
property was confiscated by the Cuban government to sue in U.S.
courts either Cuban government entities or foreign persons who engage
in transactions involving those properties.
Congress provided that Title III would come into effect on August
1, 1996, unless the President chose to suspend the effective date.
The President has the authority to suspend the effective date for
renewable periods of up to six months.
Congress also gave the President the authority to suspend the
right to file lawsuits for renewable periods of up to six months once
Title III came into effect.
Suspension requires the President to certify that it is necessary
to the national interests and will expedite a transition to democracy
The President's Decision
The President decided to allow Title III to come into force. To use
the leverage of Title III in the most effective manner, he also
decided to suspend the right to file lawsuits for a period of six
months. The President has determined this suspension is necessary to
the national interests and will expedite a transition to democracy in
Allowing Title III to come into force:
Liability will be established for any act of trafficking in
American expropriated property that takes place after November 1,
Once liability attaches for activities taking place after November
1, 1996, it cannot be extinguished -- even if the person subsequently
ceases all trafficking in expropriated property.
Traffickers will be liable for the market value of their
expropriated property, treble damages if they continue to traffic
after having received notice of a lawsuit.
Minimum amount in controversy requirement is $50,000.
Suspending the right to bring causes of action:
Lawsuits cannot be brought over the next six months.
During 6 months, we will work with allies and companies to reach
common ground on efforts to promote democracy in Cuba. Specifically,
we will work together on following steps:
Putting pressure on the regime to respect human rights and
provide the Cuban people with more economic and political
freedoms. Pressure and condemnation of Cuba's practices should
be exercised both bilaterally and in multilateral settings such
as the United Nations.
Coordinating with us on ways to provide assistance to forces
of change within Cuba -- human rights groups, dissidents,
independent journalists -- such as our $500,000 grant to
Freedom House to assist human rights activists in Cuba is
one example, but there are many more.
Withholding external non-humanitarian assistance and
preferential trading access until Cuba engages in meaningful
political and economic reform.
Channeling humanitarian assistance to legitimate,
independent groups in Cuba rather than through/to the Cuban
Promoting business practices consistent with basic workers'
rights, as was done with the Sullivan principles in South
Africa -- the right to organize, to express oneself in the
workplace, to non-discriminatory hiring practices.
Countries should place this at the center of their demands,
and companies operating joint ventures in Cuba should seek
to implement these practices at the workplace.
At end of period, and based on assessment of progress in building
a broad international consensus for democracy, President will decide
whether and to what extent to renew the suspension.
Suspension can be ended at any time; President can decide not to
renew at end of any 6-month period.
Effect of allowing Title III come into force and suspending right to
bring causes of action
Increases leverage on allies and foreign companies: Liability
will be established irreversibly, and companies will not be able to
prevent lawsuits if suspension lifted or not renewed at any later
Will deter trafficking in expropriated property because threat of
possible future lawsuits is real.
Offers six-month opportunity for U.S., its allies, and foreign
corporations to reach common ground on policy to pressure Cuba to