US citizens and companies with claims to Cuban property will soon be allowed to sue Cuban entities, according to a senior State Department official.
But foreign businesses operating on the island will be excluded from any lawsuits under the decision to partially suspend Title III of the Libertad Act.
The decision to not fully suspend Title III will allow Americans who have claims to property or assets seized in the 1959 Cuban revolution to bring lawsuits if they haven’t received payment from the Cuban government.
Beginning on March 19, US claimants can begin bringing suits against Cuban entities in US federal courts.
The US government has waived Title III of the Act every year since 1996 preventing a swathe of lawsuits being launched against businesses including hotel chains, cruise-ship companies and airlines operating in Cuba.
The official said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided against hitting European countries doing business in Cuba, but added the decision to exclude foreign investors would be reviewed after 30 days. This is a much shorter review time, as the waiver is usually signed every six months.
The senior State Department official said that during this time the US will also encourage international partners to hold Cuba accountable for “propping up” the Maduro regime in Venezuela. There are some countries currently doing business in Cuba – such as Spain – that the US wants to see take a harder stance against Nicolás Maduro. Those countries could be impacted if the US ultimately decides to go after international entities doing business with Cuba.
The entities that can be sued starting later this month are on the on the State Department’s Cuba Restricted List, meaning they are under the authority of the Cuban military, intelligence and security forces.
The senior official said that is “hard to say” the exact number of lawsuits that would be brought as a result of the decision.
Earlier Monday, the US-Cuba Business Council told CNN it was likely foreign businesses would be included in the decision.
This story has been updated.