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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                      (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands)
For Immediate Release                                    January 3, 1997


President's Title III Decision

Presidential Decision

President Clinton has suspended for an additional six months, effective February 1, the right to file suit under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), as provided for in the Act. He certified that a suspension is in the national interest and would expedite the transition to democracy in Cuba, and has reported his determination to the appropriate Congressional committees, as required by the Act.

The President allowed Title III to enter into force in July 1996, but suspended the right it grants to American nationals to bring suit against foreign firms trafficking in confiscated properties in Cuba for six months. He did so in order to work with our allies and trading partners -- not against them -- to develop a more common approach to advance democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. The President praised the progress made over the past six months toward that goal and renewed the suspension for another six months in order to consolidate and build on the momentum generated for democratic change in Cuba.

The President said he will review the application of Title III every six months as required by the law. He said that he would expect to continue to suspend the right to file suits as long as our friends and allies continue their stepped-up efforts to promote a transition to democracy in Cuba -- the central goal shared by the Act, the Clinton Administration and the community of democratic nations.

The President also noted that his Administration will continue to enforce Title IV of the Act, regarding denial of visas and exclusion of persons found to be trafficking in confiscated properties in Cuba.


On March 12, 1996, in the wake of the shootdown of two U.S. civilian aircraft by Cuban MiGs in international airspace, President Clinton signed the LIBERTAD Act. Title III of the Act provides a private right of action to U.S. nationals who hold claims to property confiscated by Cuba, allowing lawsuits against persons that "traffic" in such property.

The Act permits the President to suspend this right to file suit if he determines that to do so is in the national interest and would expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba. On July 16, the President announced his decision to allow Title III to go into effect on August 1, but to suspend the right to file suit for six months. He intended this period to be used to work with our friends and allies to strengthen efforts to promote democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. On August 16, he appointed Commerce Under-Secretary Stuart Eizenstat as his Special Representative for the Promotion of Democracy in Cuba to spearhead this effort.

Ambassador Eizenstat's work has been part of a high-level coordinated campaign by the Administration, which has included efforts and interventions by the President, Vice President, Secretary Christopher, Ambassador Albright, senior White House officials, former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dante Fascell, and literally dozens of U.S. ambassadors throughout Europe and Latin America.

Since his appointment, Ambassador Eizenstat has traveled more than 50,000 miles, including five trips to Europe, Canada and Mexico, and has met with senior officials from 18 countries, the European Community, and the Vatican. He has met with and worked to involve private business and non-governmental organizations in each of the countries he visited. He has vigorously promoted the goals of the LIBERTAD Act and worked closely on a bipartisan basis with the Congress and consulted frequently with the Cuban-American community.

The President's initiative to gain international support and action for democracy in Cuba -- the most ambitious since Castro seized power 38 years ago -- has yielded tangible positive results.

Progress in the International Effort to Promote Democracy in Cuba

Government Actions

On December 2, the 15 nations of the European Union (EU) approved a strong "Common Position" that explicitly links the EU's future political and economic relations with Cuba to progress in human rights and freedom. The Common Position, which is binding on all member states, formally commits the EU to press publicly and privately the Cuban government to respect human rights, including freedom of speech and association; reform the criminal code; release all political prisoners; end harassment of dissidents; and comply with international human rights conventions.

The EU committed to channel humanitarian aid only through non-governmental organizations, churches and international organizations, rather than through the Cuban government.

          At a December 13 European Council meeting, EU heads of 
     state and government strengthened the Common Position by 
     adding that "any future agreement that is reached [with Cuba]
     would contain a suspension clause in the event of a serious
     breach in the human rights provisions."
          In addition, the EU has issued strong public statements 
     on Cuba:
        On December 13, Prime Minister Bruton of Ireland (then the
        EU Presidency) stated "the EU has adopted a very strict
        position on restoration of democracy and human rights in
        Cuba -- a position which will be applied with consistency
        and vigor."  EU Commission President Santer made a
        similarly strong statement.
          On November 7, Sir Leon Brittan, Vice President of the 
          European Commission, gave a speech entitled "Time to 
          Encourage Reform in Cuba," calling for common EU-U.S. 
          actions to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba.  
          Brittan elaborated on the EU's position on supporting 
          human rights and called for the release of political 
          prisoners and endorsed many of the ideas proposed by 
          Ambassador Eizenstat.
          In an October 23 announcement, the EU made note of the 
          "new wave of repression and restrictions on the 
          opposition, as well as a closed attitude towards 
          international pressure, culminating in the shootdown of 
          two U.S. civilian airplanes."  These Cuban actions 
          "have led to a `freezing' of the EU-Cuban bilateral 

The EU has launched other efforts focused on Cuba, including the preparation of weekly television programs for Cuban television to be continued only if they are broadcast unedited and uncensored.

A number of democratic countries are discreetly maintaining contact with and providing moral support to human rights activists on the island.

          In early December, for the first time ever, all members 
     of the EU, as well as two Latin American countries (Costa 
     Rica and El Salvador), joined with the United States in 
     co-sponsoring a strong U.N. resolution calling on the Cuban 
     government to end human rights abuses.  The margin in favor 
     of the resolution was the largest ever -- evidence of 
     Castro's increasing isolation.
          Latin American leaders have also become increasingly 
     vocal.  At the November Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, 
     Chile, several heads of state called for democratic reform 
     in Cuba in Fidel Castro's presence.  This amplified a strong 
     Summit communique calling for democracy and human rights 
     throughout the hemisphere.

        Summit host President Frei said in his keynote speech
        that the only legitimate democracy is one that "respects
        the exercise of human rights, and which is decided on
        the basis of electoral majorities."
          Prior to the Summit, the Chilean Parliament passed a 
          resolution urging democracy in Cuba and expressing 
          "solidarity with the Cuban people, who are the victims 
          of Castro's Communist regime."

Private-Sector Initiatives

While the U.S. seeks to discourage investment in Cuba, we recognize that some foreign investment will go forward. Where it does, we seek to ensure that any investment benefit the Cuban people, not the government. Ambassador Eizenstat accordingly has met with dozens of business associations throughout Europe and North America to encourage adoption of what have come to be called "best-business practices" in Cuba. Such practices include respect for internationally recognized labor rights, safe workplaces, non-discriminatory employment, protection of the environment, employers' right to hire and pay workers directly, and workers' right to organize.

The Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), an annual meeting of approximately 70 CEOs from both sides of the Atlantic, endorsed at its November session the concept of responsible business practices, including "providing non-discriminatory employment and safe places to work." The TABD's European Chair, Dutch Businessman Simon DeBree, called for "an effort, consistent with applicable law, to directly hire and pay workers in Cuba and elsewhere," and added that "we fully support the objectives of promoting democracy in Cuba."

Several international business confederations are adding their voices to this effort. For example, the largest Dutch business group -- VNO/NCW -- which represents some 85,000 Dutch businesses and 80 percent of the Dutch private sector, on December 10 publicly endorsed the TABD's statements on business principles. The Confederation of British Industries has also approved a strong statement on best-business practices.

          The concept of best-business practices has received the 
     support of the German government, and we are confident of 
     success in our efforts to encourage other governments to do 
     so as well.

Non-Governmental Organizations' Initiatives

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in December issued a stinging report on restrictions the Cuban government places on workers' rights to organize independent labor unions. It contradicts the Cuban government's claim that there are independent unions in Cuba. The report calls for Cuban workers' freedom to organize and continued ICFTU monitoring of the situation.

Various European NGOs, including the Dutch group Pax Christi, have decided to establish the "European Platform for Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba" to support the pro-democracy, non-violent opposition in Cuba.

          The Liberal Party International is planning a 
     conference in Europe on Cuban democracy in early 1997.
          While international NGOs have generally wished to 
     conduct activities as discreetly as possible, many are 
     pursuing efforts to encourage reform in Cuba and strengthen 
     civil society.  We understand that many plan to increase 
     their Cuba activities.  

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