14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, January 4, 2023 — The Cuban communist regime has to prepare for this year. It has just begun, and the first blow of the many that will arrive as the months go by has already fallen. I am referring to the decision of a federal judge in Florida who, based on Title III of the Helms Burton Act, has ordered four cruise lines that included Cuba in their itineraries to pay more than 400 million dollars for alleged damages to the U.S. company, Havana Docks, which had the concession to use some of the docks in the port of Havana, before the triumph of the Revolution.
Little by little, justice advances and legitimate rights are recovered. There are two initial considerations that provoke the wrath of Cuban communists. First, that history ends up providing justice for actions that trample on the rights of any individual or legal entity. And second, that the regime of Havana has to change the discourse, because it must assume that compliance with the laws, no matter how much they don’t like them, is the key to any legitimate government action.
For Havana, this judge’s decision is one more “villainy” on the list that the U.S. launches toward Cuba, in one of the hardest years in the history of the so-called “revolution.” But more will come, and even if the names are changed, it is still the same regime in power. They, and they alone, must assume the responsibility for restoring the rights trampled on by the Cuban government.
We are facing an impeccable judicial decision that establishes that the four cruise companies Carnival, MSC S.A., Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, which use the port facilities of Havana, committed “acts of trafficking” that are perfectly typified in Title III of the Helms Burton Act, so that no one can say they were deceived.
Using the port facilities that had been confiscated by the Cuban communist regime falls within that category typified in the Law. In addition, the court decision established that they carried out “forbidden tourism” practices by bringing American travelers to Cuba and using the port facilities of Havana.
And here we have the Cuban communist leaders who wake up to a reality that will end up providing justice, because it is not possible to raise a political regime with propaganda and lies announcing the arrival of justice, when at the same time, vandalism and criminal acts against property rights are committed from power, which are permanent and never expire when exercised by their legitimate owners.
What does it matter that it was not Fidel Castro, but his regime that ordered confiscations and nationalizations, if it is the same now as then? If the sovereignty of the regime at that time was to take over the rights of private property, then the time has come to restore the rights and prevent such practices from being maintained without punishment.
Removing history is not what should be done, but looking to the future knowing that outrages were committed that have to be compensated so that the economic system can continue to function. And the worst thing is to misrepresent the facts. The confiscation action of the revolution was so rapid with the economic interests of U.S. citizens in Cuba, that this country did not have time to react.
It is not true that the issue of nationalized properties would never be negotiated, nor that it prohibited the affected companies from negotiating. The social pressure and the disturbances of that time were so alarming that many managers had to escape the country on the first flight, leaving everything behind.
Then when some procedures of the commission of claims were negotiated, there were so many requests for compensation that the regime recognized only 5,911, but there were four or five times more (since many were eliminated on the fly), and many others do not even appear in the files. The processes established by the revolutionary regime were so slow and cumbersome that they immediately led to protests from those affected.
Then, to top it all off, the regime, far from recognizing its attacks and the most absolute contempt for private property of the first moments of revolutionary fervor, dictated Law 851, complementary to the Fundamental Law of 1959, which established the principle of forced expropriation due to public utility, through which it took ownership from Cubans in several phases that reached to 1968 with the so-called Revolutionary Offensive.
It should not be forgotten that all legislation confiscating property rights arose from an absolute lack of legitimacy, based only on the revolutionary decision to legislate giving the ongoing process a constituent character, when it never had it. In this illegal and illegitimate way, the private productive capital of the nation was destroyed, and the processes of compensation for the enormous amount of nationalized property were annulled or delayed over time.
To gain time, the communists devised bonds of the Republic, junk bonds devoid of solvency and certainty (they would be paid over 30 years at an interest of 2% per year, a financial mockery), issued by the regime, that were not in the interest of the expropriated parties as a means of payment.
At the same time, experts were appointed to assess the confiscated assets who, from the first moment, had no choice but to obey the communist slogans. Not even the fund created in the National Bank of Cuba, called the “Fund for the payment of expropriations of goods and companies of nationals of the United States of America,” contributed to solving a conflict that has lasted 63 years.
The reason? Very simple. That fund, non-existent at the time of its creation, would be financed every year by 25% of the foreign currency that corresponded to the sugar purchases that the U.S. made each year from Cuba. That is, the regime intended that the U.S., after the outrages committed against its nationals, would continue to pay for the sugar harvest.
It was impossible, because from the first moment, the U.S. stopped buying “Cuban white gold,” ending favorable economic relations that existed for more than 30 years. And the communists blame their northern neighbor for making the compensation for confiscations impossible with that decision. It’s too much nitpicking.
The sanction of cruise ships decreed by the Florida judge sends two messages to the Havana regime. First, the litigation has not died, and it remains present until the thousands of citizens and companies are compensated for the theft of their property rights. Sovereign justice is here to fulfill this mission. And second, that the fine transfers to potential investors of the Cuban regime with whom they have to talk and agree on any economic decision that has a future in a democratic Cuba.
And of course, as could not be otherwise, Cuban communists can only stamp their feet. In a demagogic way, the communist state press wonders how it is possible that, in the country of freedom, there exists one “forbidden tourism” and another “authorized,” and they thus question the freedom to travel. Foolish argument. The first thing they have to understand in Havana is that the governments of all countries maintain restrictions or recommendations to nationals so that they don’t travel to certain countries, and there are many reasons. It is not surprising that the U.S. wants its citizens to travel safely abroad.
The communist regime of Havana is insecure, by nature, because it does not respect the division of powers, and all decisions are political and go through the single-party regime. What security do those who travel to such a country have? In addition, for more than four decades, which Cubans could really travel abroad and where? None. It was the years of the Cold War, when the Havana regime banned the exit, and Cubans fled the prison island as best they could. It should be remembered that the freedom of departure came a few years ago, with Raúl Castro.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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