Cuban-American Sues for Compensation for Property Expropriated in 1959 / EFE, 14ymedio

General view of the entrance of the port of Santiago de Cuba. (Networks)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Miami, 7 February 2017 — The Cuban-American neurosurgeon Javier García-Bengochea filed a lawsuit in US federal court against a Chinese company for building on property that he says was expropriated from his family by the Island’s government in 1959.

The civil suit, for 6.5 million euros, was filed last Friday in a local court in Jacksonville, North Florida, against the China Communications Construction Company Ltd., based in Beijing, according to court documents to which EFE had access.

The petitioner claims that he inherited the property in the port of Santiago in eastern Cuba from his cousin in 1972, although it was seized by the Cuban government in 1959.

The Government of Cuba has yet to resolve the 5,913 claims certified in the US regarding properties confiscated on the island, for a total amount of 1,780 million euros.

A first step in advancing these processes would be to activate Title III of the 1996 Freedom Act (Helms-Burton), but since its adoption Title III has been suspended, every six months, by order of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

This clause allows Americans, even if they were not there at the time of the expropriation, to file US claims in US courts and prohibits foreign companies from “trafficking” these confiscated properties.

Garcia-Bengochea’s suit demands economic compensation from the Chinese company for “trafficking” his property in Cuba.

John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which brings together US companies interested in increasing trade with the island, told EFE that President Obama suspended the clause again for another six months on 5 January, 15 days before the end of his term.