President Trump Extends National Emergencies Act For Cuba

TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE  


February 19, 2019   

Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:) 

Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days before the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.  In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to Cuba that was declared on March 1, 1996, in Proclamation 6867, as amended by Proclamation 7757 on February 26, 2004, Proclamation 9398 on February 25, 2016, and Proclamation 9699 on February 22, 2018, is to continue in effect beyond February 22, 2019.

It continues to be United States policy that a mass migration from Cuba would endanger the security of the United States by posing a disturbance or threatened disturbance of the international relations of the United States.  The unauthorized entry of vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States into Cuban territorial waters is in violation of United States law and contrary to United States policy.  Further, the unauthorized entry of United States-registered vessels into Cuban territorial waters continues to be detrimental to United States foreign policy and counter to the purpose of Executive Order 12807 of May 24, 1992, which is to ensure, among other things, safe, orderly, and legal migration.  The possibility of large-scale unauthorized entries of United States-registered vessels would disturb the international relations of the United States by facilitating a possible mass migration of Cuban nationals.  For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared with respect to Cuba and the emergency authority relating to the regulation of the anchorage and movement of vessels set out in Proclamation 6867, as amended by Proclamation 7757, Proclamation 9398, and Proclamation 9699.

Sincerely, 

DONALD J. TRUMP

P20170614JB-0303-2-1920x720.jpg

Title IV Visa Restrictions For Executives Could Impact Companies With Combined Revenues Of US$500 Billion

Title IV- Restricting Travel Into The United States

20 Potential Targets In 11 Countries

One Company Already Restricted

2018 revenues approximately US$500 billion

2018 market capitalization approximately US$600 billion

What Will EU Do?  What Can EU Do?  Does US Care? 

On 17/18 March 2019, the Trump Administration is planning to permit Title III and further implement Title IV of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (known as “Libertad Act”).   

Title III authorizes lawsuits in United States District Courts against companies and individuals who are using a certified claim where the owner of the certified claim has not received compensation from the Republic of Cuba or from a third-party who is using the asset.   

Title IV restricts entry into the United States by individuals who have connectivity to unresolved certified claims.  One company is currently subject to this provision.   

There is a rationale for companies and individuals who are targets of Title IV actions by the United States Department of State to find commercial, economic and political value from negotiating a settlement(s) with a plaintiff(s). 

Upon settlement, the companies and individuals may no longer be subject to impediments to their operations relating to the Republic of Cuba and other countries which are a focus of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and of the Office of Legal Adviser (OLA) of the United States Department of State. 

Settlements would reasonably result in an increase to the operational value of an asset located in the Republic of Cuba- the value of the asset increases as governments, financial institutions, investors, partners, and suppliers have increased confidence in long-term market-based viability. 

With settlement, there could be commercial, economic and political value to those who were subject to certified claims from having an ongoing presence of companies and individuals subject to United States jurisdiction as a shareholder, partner or leaseholder- meaning that if a company settles with the owner of an asset, and the owner is of Cuban descent residing in the United States or an individual not of Cuban descent, or company located in the United States, there may be an optical and practical benefit- lessening stigma, lessening risk, increasing opportunity and increasing value of the asset.    

What Is Title IV? 

SEC. 401. EXCLUSION FROM THE UNITED STATES OF ALIENS WHO HAVE CONFISCATED PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES NATIONALS OR WHO TRAFFIC IN SUCH PROPERTY. 

(a) Grounds for Exclusion.--The Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Attorney General shall exclude from the United States, any alien who the Secretary of State determines is a person who, after the date of the enactment of this Act-- (1) has confiscated, or has directed or overseen the confiscation of, property a claim to which is owned by a United States national, or converts or has converted for personal gain confiscated property, a claim to which is owned by a United States national; (2) traffics in confiscated property, a claim to which is owned by a United States national; (3) is a corporate officer, principal, or shareholder with a controlling interest of an entity which has been involved in the confiscation of property or trafficking in confiscated property, a claim to which is owned by a United States national; or (4) is a spouse, minor child, or agent of a person excludable under paragraph (1), (2), or (3). 

Executives From Canadian Company Remain Subject To Title IV 

From Media Reports on 10/11 July 1996: Under the measures announced today (10 July 1996) by the State Department, the director of the Toronto-based company, Sherritt International Corp., will be barred from entering the United States, along with eight of his top officers and their immediate families. The ban will take effect in six weeks, after a waiting period designed to allow the company time to terminate its investments in Cuba.  At a briefing in Washington announcing the notification of the company executives affected, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns defended the provision affecting families as “likely to enhance . . . the threat that is contained very clearly in Helms-Burton.”  Burns said company executives were notified in letters dated Tuesday that after 45 days, they will not be allowed to enter the United States. The period is supposed to allow the company time to reconsider its investments in Cuba.  “It is unconventional,” Burns said. “It is a very tough action that we are taking today.” 

Potential Targets For Visa Action 

The following companies have been mentioned by claimants (certified and non-certified) as potential targets of lawsuits using provisions of Title IV.    

The targeted companies will expectedly be those who have meaningful financial exposure within the Republic of Cuba and, but not necessarily, have meaningful financial exposure within the United States.  In some instances, the reputational impact upon a company may, rather than the financial exposure, be a catalyst for agreeing to a settlement. 

The combined revenues of the companies in 2018 were approximately US$500 billion and the combined market capitalization of the companies in 2018 was approximately US$600 billion

Amstelveen, Netherlands-based KLM 

Beijing, China-based Air China

Frankfurt, Germany-based Lufthansa

Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises

Istanbul, Turkey-based Turkish Airlines

London, United Kingdom/Rotterdam, Netherlands-based Unilever

Madrid, Spain-based Iberia Airlines

Madrid, Spain-based NH Hotel Group

Moscow, Russia-based Gazprom

Palma de Mallorca, Spain-based Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

Palma de Mallorca, Spain-based Melia Hotels International

Paris, France-based Accor SA

Paris, France-based Air France

Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard

Shenzhen, China-based Huawei Technologies

Tokyo, Japan-based Mitsubishi Group

Toulouse, France-based Newrest Group Holding

Toronto, Canada-based Air Canada

Toronto, Canada-based Sherritt International

Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA 

Certified Claims Background 

There are 8,821 claims of which 5,913 awards valued at US$1,902,202,284.95 were certified by the USFCSC and have not been resolved for nearing sixty years.  The USFCSC permitted interest to be accrued in the amount of 6% per annum; with the current value of the 5,913 certified claims approximately US$8,521,866,156.95.  

The first asset to be expropriated by the Republic of Cuba was an oil refinery in 1960 owned by White Plains, New York-based Texaco, Inc., now a subsidiary of San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corporation (USFCSC: CU-1331/CU-1332/CU-1333 valued at US$56,196,422.73).  

The largest certified claim (Cuban Electric Company) valued at US$267,568,413.62 is controlled by Boca Raton, Florida-based Office Depot, Inc.  The second-largest certified claim (International Telephone and Telegraph Co, ITT as Trustee, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) valued at US$181,808,794.14 is controlled by Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International.  The smallest certified claim is by Sara W. Fishman in the amount of US$1.00 with reference to the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust. 

The two (2) largest certified claims total US$449,377,207.76, representing 24% of the total value of the certified claims.  Thirty (30) certified claimants hold 56% of the total value of the certified claims.  This concentration of value creates an efficient pathway towards a settlement.   

Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 requires that an asset had a value of US$50,000.00 when expropriated by the Republic of Cuba without compensation to the original owner.  Of the 5,913 certified claims, 913, or 15%, are valued at US$50,000.00 or more.  Adjusted for inflation, US$50,000.00 (3.70% per annum) in 1960 has a 2019 value of approximately US$427,267.01.  The USFCSC authorized 6% per annum, meaning the 2019 value of US$50,000.00 is approximately US$1,649,384.54.  

The ITT Corporation Agreement 

In July 1997, then-New York City, New York-based ITT Corporation and then-Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based STET International Netherlands N.V. signed an agreement whereby STET International Netherlands N.V. would pay approximately US$25 million to ITT Corporation for a ten-year right (after which the agreement could be renewed and was renewed) to use assets (telephone facilities and telephone equipment) within the Republic of Cuba upon which ITT Corporation has a certified claim valued at approximately US$130.8 million.  ETECSA, which is now wholly-owned by the government of the Republic of Cuba, was a joint venture controlled by the Ministry of Information and Communications of the Republic of Cuba within which Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based Telecom Italia International N.V. (formerly Stet International Netherlands N.V.), a subsidiary of Rome, Italy-based Telecom Italia S.p.A. was a shareholder.  Telecom Italia S.p.A., was at one time a subsidiary of Ivrea, Italy-based Olivetti S.p.A.  The second-largest certified claim (International Telephone and Telegraph Co, ITT as Trustee, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) valued at US$181,808,794.14 is controlled by Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International.  

Libertad Act of 1996

Sec. 306. Effective date.

TITLE IV--EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN ALIENS 

SEC. 401. EXCLUSION FROM THE UNITED STATES OF ALIENS WHO HAVE CONFISCATED PROPERTY OF UNITED STATES NATIONALS OR WHO TRAFFIC IN SUCH PROPERTY. 

(a) Grounds for Exclusion.--The Secretary of State shall deny a visa to, and the Attorney General shall exclude from the United States, any alien who the Secretary of State determines is a person who, after the date of the enactment of this Act--  (1) has confiscated, or has directed or overseen the confiscation of, property a claim to which is owned by a United States national, or converts or has converted for personal gain confiscated property, a claim to which is owned by a United States national; (2) traffics in confiscated property, a claim to which is owned by a United States national;  (3) is a corporate officer, principal, or shareholder with a controlling interest of an entity which has been involved in the confiscation of property or trafficking in confiscated property, a claim to which is owned by a United States national; or (4) is a spouse, minor child, or agent of a person excludable under paragraph (1), (2), or (3). 

(b) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings: (1) Confiscated; confiscation.--The terms "confiscated" and "confiscation" refer to-- (A) the nationalization, expropriation, or other seizure by the Cuban Government of ownership or control of property-- (i) without the property having been returned or adequate and effective compensation provided; Or (ii) without the claim to the property having been settled pursuant to an international claims settlement agreement or other mutually accepted settlement procedure; and (B) the repudiation by the Cuban Government of, the default by the Cuban Government on, or the failure of the Cuban Government to pay-- (i) a debt of any enterprise which has been nationalized, expropriated, or otherwise taken by the Cuban Government; (ii) a debt which is a charge on property nationalized, expropriated, or otherwise taken by the Cuban Government; or (iii) a debt which was incurred by the Cuban Government in satisfaction or settlement of a confiscated property claim. 

(2) Traffics.--(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), a person "traffics" in confiscated property if that person knowingly and intentionally-- (i) (I) transfers, distributes, dispenses, brokers, or otherwise disposes of confiscated property, (II) purchases, receives, obtains control of, or otherwise acquires confiscated property, or (III) improves (other than for routine maintenance), invests in (by contribution of funds or anything of value, other than for routine maintenance), or begins after the date of the enactment of this Act to manage, lease, possess, use, or hold an interest in confiscated property, (ii) enters into a commercial arrangement using or otherwise benefiting from confiscated property, or (iii) causes, directs, participates in, or profits from, trafficking (as described in clause (i) or (ii)) by another person, or otherwise engages in trafficking (as described in clause (i) or (ii)) through another person, without the authorization of any United States national who holds a claim to the property. 

(B) The term "traffics" does not include-- (i) the delivery of international telecommunication signals to Cuba; (ii) the trading or holding of securities publicly traded or held, unless the trading is with or by a person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury to be a specially designated national; (iii) transactions and uses of property incident to lawful travel to Cuba, to the extent that such transactions and uses of property are necessary to the conduct of such travel; or (iv) transactions and uses of property by a person who is both a citizen of Cuba and a resident of Cuba, and who is not an official of the Cuban Government or the ruling political party in Cuba.  (c) Exemption.--This section shall not apply where the Secretary of State finds, on a case by case basis, that the entry into the United States of the person who would otherwise be excluded under this section is necessary for medical reasons or for purposes of litigation of an action under title III.

LINK To Libertad Act Of 1996

LINK To Complete Analysis In PDF Format

$_1.JPG

Title III Lawsuits For Cuba Expropriations Could Impact 20 Countries And 6 U.S. States

Title III- Lawsuits May Be Filed

29 Potential Targets

20 Countries

6 U.S. States

913 Plaintiffs?

2018 revenues approximately US$678 billion

2018 market capitalization approximately US$860 billion

Defendants Will Have Resources For Global Legal Defense

Settlement May Be The Most Profitable

Will They Settle?

What Will EU Do?  What Can EU Do?  Does US Care? 

On 17/18 March 2019, the Trump Administration is planning to permit Title III and further implement Title IV of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (known as “Libertad Act”).   

Title III authorizes lawsuits in United States District Courts against companies and individuals who are using a certified claim where the owner of the certified claim has not received compensation from the Republic of Cuba or from a third-party who is using the asset.   

Title IV restricts entry into the United States by individuals who have connectivity to unresolved certified claims.  One company is currently subject to this provision. 

There is a rationale for companies and individuals who are targets of Title III lawsuits to find commercial, economic and political value from negotiating a settlement(s) with a plaintiff(s). 

Upon settlement, the companies and individuals may no longer be subject to impediments to their operations relating to the Republic of Cuba and other countries which are a focus of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and of the Office of Legal Adviser (OLA) of the United States Department of State. 

Settlements would reasonably result in an increase to the operational value of an asset located in the Republic of Cuba- the value of the asset increases as governments, financial institutions, investors, partners, and suppliers have increased confidence in long-term market-based viability. 

With settlement, there could be commercial, economic and political value to those who were subject to certified claims from having an ongoing presence of companies and individuals subject to United States jurisdiction as a shareholder, partner or leaseholder- meaning that if a company settles with the owner of an asset, and the owner is of Cuban descent residing in the United States or an individual not of Cuban descent, or company located in the United States, there may be an optical and practical benefit- lessening stigma, lessening risk, increasing opportunity and increasing value of the asset.    

Potential Lawsuit Targets 

The following companies have been mentioned by claimants (certified and non-certified) as potential targets of lawsuits using provisions of Title III.  A company could be subject to multiple lawsuits.   

If the Trump Administration authorizes the use of Title III by some certified claimants and some non-certified claimants while not authorizing the use of Title III by other certified claimants and other non-certified claimants, there may be legal challenges by those excluded from access to Title III.   

The targeted companies will expectedly be those who have meaningful financial exposure within the Republic of Cuba and have meaningful financial exposure within the United States.  In some instances, the reputational impact upon a company may, rather than the financial exposure, be a catalyst for agreeing to a settlement. 

The combined revenues of the companies in 2018 were approximately US$678 billion and the combined market capitalization of the companies in 2018 was approximately US$860 billion

Amstelveen, Netherlands-based KLM 

Atlanta, Georgia-based Delta Air Lines

Beijing, China-based Air China

Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International

Chicago, Illinois-based United Airlines

Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines

Dallas, Texas-based Southwest Airlines

Frankfurt, Germany-based Lufthansa

Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises

Istanbul, Turkey-based Turkish Airlines

London, United Kingdom/Rotterdam, Netherlands-based Unilever

Long Island City, New York-based Jet Blue Airways

Madrid, Spain-based Iberia Airlines

Madrid, Spain-based NH Hotel Group

Miami, Florida-based Carnival Corporation & plc

Miami, Florida-based Norwegian Cruise Line

Miami, Florida-based Royal Caribbean International

Moscow, Russia-based Gazprom

Palma de Mallorca, Spain-based Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

Palma de Mallorca, Spain-based Melia Hotels International

Paris, France-based Accor SA

Paris, France-based Air France

Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard

Shenzhen, China-based Huawei Technologies

Tokyo, Japan-based Mitsubishi Group

Toulouse, France-based Newrest Group Holding

Toronto, Canada-based Air Canada

Toronto, Canada-based Sherritt International

Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA 

Certified Claims Background 

There are 8,821 claims of which 5,913 awards valued at US$1,902,202,284.95 were certified by the USFCSC and have not been resolved for nearing sixty years.  The USFCSC permitted interest to be accrued in the amount of 6% per annum; with the current value of the 5,913 certified claims approximately US$8,521,866,156.95.  

The first asset to be expropriated by the Republic of Cuba was an oil refinery in 1960 owned by White Plains, New York-based Texaco, Inc., now a subsidiary of San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corporation (USFCSC: CU-1331/CU-1332/CU-1333 valued at US$56,196,422.73).  

The largest certified claim (Cuban Electric Company) valued at US$267,568,413.62 is controlled by Boca Raton, Florida-based Office Depot, Inc.  The second-largest certified claim (International Telephone and Telegraph Co, ITT as Trustee, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) valued at US$181,808,794.14 is controlled by Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International.  The smallest certified claim is by Sara W. Fishman in the amount of US$1.00 with reference to the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust. 

The two (2) largest certified claims total US$449,377,207.76, representing 24% of the total value of the certified claims.  Thirty (30) certified claimants hold 56% of the total value of the certified claims.  This concentration of value creates an efficient pathway towards a settlement.   

Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 requires that an asset had a value of US$50,000.00 when expropriated by the Republic of Cuba without compensation to the original owner.  Of the 5,913 certified claims, 913, or 15%, are valued at US$50,000.00 or more.  Adjusted for inflation, US$50,000.00 (3.70% per annum) in 1960 has a 2019 value of approximately US$427,267.01.  The USFCSC authorized 6% per annum, meaning the 2019 value of US$50,000.00 is approximately US$1,649,384.54.  

The ITT Corporation Agreement 

In July 1997, then-New York City, New York-based ITT Corporation and then-Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based STET International Netherlands N.V. signed an agreement whereby STET International Netherlands N.V. would pay approximately US$25 million to ITT Corporation for a ten-year right (after which the agreement could be renewed and was renewed) to use assets (telephone facilities and telephone equipment) within the Republic of Cuba upon which ITT Corporation has a certified claim valued at approximately US$130.8 million.  ETECSA, which is now wholly-owned by the government of the Republic of Cuba, was a joint venture controlled by the Ministry of Information and Communications of the Republic of Cuba within which Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based Telecom Italia International N.V. (formerly Stet International Netherlands N.V.), a subsidiary of Rome, Italy-based Telecom Italia S.p.A. was a shareholder.  Telecom Italia S.p.A., was at one time a subsidiary of Ivrea, Italy-based Olivetti S.p.A.  The second-largest certified claim (International Telephone and Telegraph Co, ITT as Trustee, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) valued at US$181,808,794.14 is controlled by Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International.  

TITLE III--SEC. 302. LIABILITY FOR TRAFFICKING IN CONFISCATED PROPERTY CLAIMED BY UNITED STATES NATIONALS. 

(a) Civil Remedy.-- (1) Liability for trafficking.--(A) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person that, after the end of the 3-month period beginning on the effective date of this title, traffics in property which was confiscated by the Cuban Government on or after January 1, 1959, shall be liable to any United States national who owns the claim to such property for money damages in an amount equal to the sum of-- (i) the amount which is the greater of-- (I) the amount, if any, certified to the claimant by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission under the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949, plus interest; (II) the amount determined under section 303(a)(2), plus interest; or (III) the fair market value of that property, calculated as being either the current value of the property, or the value of the property when confiscated plus interest, whichever is greater; and (ii) court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.  (B) Interest under subparagraph (A)(i) shall be at the rate set forth in section 1961 of title 28, United States Code, computed by the court from the date of confiscation of the property involved to the date on which the action is brought under this subsection.   

(2) Presumption in favor of the certified claims.--There shall be a presumption that the amount for which a person is liable under clause (i) of paragraph (1)(A) is the amount that is certified as described in subclause (I) of that clause. The presumption shall be rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence that the amount described in subclause (II) or (III) of that clause is the appropriate amount of liability under that clause. 

(3) Increased liability.--(A) Any person that traffics in confiscated property for which liability is incurred under paragraph (1) shall, if a United States national owns a claim with respect to that property which was certified by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission under title V of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949, be liable for damages computed in accordance with subparagraph (C).   

(B) If the claimant in an action under this subsection (other than a United States national to whom subparagraph (A) applies) provides, after the end of the 3-month period described in paragraph (1) notice to-- (i) a person against whom the action is to be initiated, or (ii) a person who is to be joined as a defendant in the action, at least 30 days before initiating the action or joining such person as a defendant, as the case may be, and that person, after the end of the 30- day period beginning on the date the notice is provided, traffics in the confiscated property that is the subject of the action, then that person shall be liable to that claimant for damages computed in accordance with subparagraph (C).   

(C) Damages for which a person is liable under subparagraph (A) or subparagraph (B) are money damages in an amount equal to the sum of-- (i) the amount determined under paragraph (1)(A)(ii), and (ii) 3 times the amount determined applicable under paragraph (1)(A)(i).  (D) Notice to a person under subparagraph (B)-- (i) shall be in writing; (ii) shall be posted by certified mail or personally delivered to the person; and (iii) shall contain-- (I) a statement of intention to commence the action under this section or to join the person as a defendant (as the case may be), together with the reasons therefor; (II) a demand that the unlawful trafficking in the claimant's property cease immediately; and (III) a copy of the summary statement published under paragraph (8).  (4) Applicability.--(A) Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, actions may be brought under paragraph (1) with respect to property confiscated before, on, or after the date of the enactment of this Act. 

(B) In the case of property confiscated before the date of the enactment of this Act, a United States national may not bring an action under this section on a claim to the confiscated property unless such national acquires ownership of the claim before such date of enactment.  (C) In the case of property confiscated on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, a United States national who, after the property is confiscated, acquires ownership of a claim to the property by assignment for value, may not bring an action on the claim under this section.   

(5) Treatment of certain actions.--(A) In the case of a United States national who was eligible to file a claim with the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission under title V of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949 but did not so file the claim, that United States national may not bring an action on that claim under this section.  (B) In the case of any action brought under this section by a United States national whose underlying claim in the action was timely filed with the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission under title V of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949 but was denied by the Commission, the court shall accept the findings of the Commission on the claim as conclusive in the action under this section. 

(C) A United States national, other than a United States national bringing an action under this section on a claim certified under title V of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949, may not bring an action on a claim under this section before the end of the 2-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act. 

(D) An interest in property for which a United States national has a claim certified under title V of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949 may not be the subject of a claim in an action under this section by any other person. Any person bringing an action under this section whose claim has not been so certified shall have the burden of establishing for the court that the interest in property that is the subject of the claim is not the subject of a claim so certified.  (6) Inapplicability of act of state doctrine.--No court of the United States shall decline, based upon the act of state doctrine, to make a determination on the merits in an action brought under paragraph (1) . 

(7) Licenses not required.--(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action under this section may be brought and may be settled, and a judgment rendered in such action may be enforced, without obtaining any license or other permission from any agency of the United States, except that this paragraph shall not apply to the execution of a judgment against, or the settlement of actions involving, property blocked under the authorities of section 5(b) of the Trading with the Enemy Act that were being exercised on July 1, 1977, as a result of a national emergency declared by the President before such date, and are being exercised on the date of the enactment of this Act.

LINK To Complete Text Of Libertad Act Of 1996

LINK To Complete Analysis In PDF Format

31976-optimized_59055d0b059d4.jpg

Senator Klobuchar Could Be A Catalyst For Claims Or Her Candidacy Could Doom Her Legislation

Senator Klobuchar Could Be A Hero To 5,913 Companies & Individuals

Being Catalyst To Settle 58-Year Problem Is Good Presidential Politics

Her Candidacy Could Also Doom The Effort

Company In Her State Has Certified Claim

Four Senators Will Try To Prevail To Derail

Impact Of Trump Administration March 2019 Title III/Title IV Decision

Embassy Meeting

Cuba: Ask For Assistance- Quickly

Risking Another Tombstone In The Legislative Graveyard 

The Honorable Amy Klobuchar (D- Minnesota), a member of the United States Senate, has framed two (2) announcements- each may impact upon the success of the other.   

Senator Klobuchar, elected to a third term in 2018, was first elected to the United States Senate in 2006.  

On 10 February 2019, Senator Klobuchar commenced an effort to obtain the nomination in 2020 of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.  That announcement could jeopardize any legislation attached to her as opponents (Democratic, Republican, Independent) of her candidacy seek to limit her successes.   

On 8 February 2019, Senator Klobuchar introduced legislation that would make changes to provisions of United States statutes that impact the commercial, economic and political bilateral relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cuba. 

That legislation. S. 428 (“A bill to lift the trade embargo on Cuba”), does “not repeal portions of law that address human rights or property claims against the Cuban government.”  Why not?  Then they must be important. 

Maplewood, Minnesota-based 3M (2018 revenues approximately US$32 billion) has the 615th largest certified claim (CU-0242) against the Republic of Cuba in the amount of US$94,409.20.  Adjusted for inflation (3.70% annual rate), the certified claim is valued at approximately US$835,102.34 in 2019.  Adjusted for 6% annual interest as permitted by the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC- https://www.justice.gov/fcsc) at the United States Department of Justice, the certified claim is valued at approximately US$3,114,341.50 in 2019.   

Initial co-sponsors of the legislation are The Honorable Mike Enzi (R- Wyoming) and The Honorable Patrick Leahy (D- Vermont.  There appear not to be any certified claimants located in the states of Wyoming or Vermont.  

Certified Claims Background 

There are 8,821 claims of which 5,913 awards valued at US$1,902,202,284.95 were certified by the USFCSC and have not been resolved for nearing sixty years.  The USFCSC permitted interest to be accrued in the amount of 6% per annum; with the current value of the 5,913 certified claims approximately US$8,521,866,156.95.  

The first asset to be expropriated by the Republic of Cuba was an oil refinery in 1960 owned by White Plains, New York-based Texaco, Inc., now a subsidiary of San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corporation (USFCSC: CU-1331/CU-1332/CU-1333 valued at US$56,196,422.73).  

The largest certified claim (Cuban Electric Company) valued at US$267,568,413.62 is controlled by Boca Raton, Florida-based Office Depot, Inc.  The second-largest certified claim (International Telephone and Telegraph Co, ITT as Trustee, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) valued at US$181,808,794.14 is controlled by Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International.  The smallest certified claim is by Sara W. Fishman in the amount of US$1.00 with reference to the Cuban-Venezuelan Oil Voting Trust. 

The two (2) largest certified claims total US$449,377,207.76, representing 24% of the total value of the certified claims.  Thirty (30) certified claimants hold 56% of the total value of the certified claims.  This concentration of value creates an efficient pathway towards a settlement by providing a logistically-reasonable individual and group outreach opportunity.   

Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 authorizes lawsuits in United States District Courts against entities that are using a certified claim where the owner of the certified claim has not received compensation from the Republic of Cuba or from a third-party who is using the asset.  Title IV restricts entry into the United States of individuals who have connectivity to unresolved certified claims. 

Title III requires that an asset had a value of US$50,000.00 when expropriated by the Republic of Cuba without compensation to the original owner.  Of the 5,913 certified claims, 913, or 15%, are valued at US$50,000.00 or more.  Adjusted for inflation, US$50,000.00 (3.70% per annum) in 1960 has a 2019 value of approximately US$427,267.01.  The USFCSC authorized 6% per annum, thus the 2019 value of US$50,000.00 is approximately US$1,649,384.54.   

Headwinds (Derailment) For The Legislation  

With the three senators specifically excluding from their legislation any impact upon the certified claims, they are confirming the fundamental importance of the certified claims, the rights of the certified claimants, and that the Republic of Cuba must agree to a settlement of the certified claims. 

Which leads to the question of why these three senators have focused their public advocacy for changing the bilateral commercial relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cuba, but not public advocacy on behalf of the certified claimants- one of which is a constituent of Senator Klobuchar?  

If the three senators have been convinced by advocates that excluding any impact upon the certified claimants from the legislation will create another “path forward” for the legislation through the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives, they have been misled. 

By excluding the certified claims from the legislation, the three senators likely ensure an outcome they may not desire. 

At least four (4) members of the United States Senate will oppose the legislation with every legislative tool available to them.   

The Honorable Marco Rubio (R- Florida), The Honorable Ted Cruz (R- Texas), The Honorable Rick Scott (R- Florida) and The Honorable Robert Menendez (D- New Jersey) will require the legislation (unless they scuttle it) to 1) have a settlement of the certified claims in advance of the implementation of the legislation and 2) substantial carve-outs for any interaction with entities controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR).   

The four senators will have support from a bipartisan group of their colleagues including committee chairs and sub-committee chairs. 

Those efforts in the United States Senate will be joined by members of the United States House of Representatives, including those from the State of Florida and the State of New Jersey; along with members who are committee chairs and sub-committee chairs. 

The Trump Administration 

The Trump Administration is focusing upon seeking a resolution of the certified claims and is expected to implement (partially or fully) Title III and enhance activity relating to Title IV of Libertad on 17/18 March 2019.   

For Senator Klobuchar 

Senator Klobuchar would be served well by convening a meeting in Washington DC with the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to the United States where all co-sponsors of the legislation, as one group, would convey the importance of the Republic of Cuba negotiating a settlement of the certified claims and obtaining a commitment to negotiate a settlement of the certified claims.   

In December 2018, a proposal was submitted to the Republic of Cuba and to the Trump Administration that would create a specific timetable to reach a settlement. LINK:    https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2018/11/18/lojx6s6oe5epgonh6mub855d5ak143 

While advocating for legislation, Senator Klobuchar and her co-sponsors and supporters should encourage the implementation of Direct Correspondent Banking by Conway, Arkansas-based Home BancShares (2018 assets approximately US$14 billion).  In September 2017, Pompano, Florida-based Stonegate Bank (2017 assets approximately US$2.9 billion) was purchased by Home BancShares through its Centennial Bank subsidiary:   

In 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury authorized Stonegate Bank to have an account with BICSA.  Stonegate Bank provides commercial operating accounts for the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, DC and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in New York City; the financial institution also handles other types of OFAC-authorized transactions.  Stonegate Bank has a correspondent account with Republic of Cuba government-operated Banco Internacional de Comercia SA (BICSA).  However, because BICSA does not have a correspondent account with Stonegate Bank, the fully-operational direct correspondent relationship does not exist, and a multi-country triangular payment process continues- financial institutions in third countries have received fees on more than US$5.8 billion in transactions during the last eighteen years.  The Obama Administration did not authorize BICSA under a general OFAC license or reportedly in the OFAC license issued to Stonegate Bank for it to have an account with Stonegate Bank, so Stonegate Bank has processed some transactions through Panama City, Panama-based Multibank, which has dealings with the Republic of Cuba.   

For The Republic Of Cuba 

The Republic of Cuba needs to uncouple its issues with the Trump Administration from the 5,913 certified claimants.   

The negotiation to settle the certified claims must not be linked to the value the Republic of Cuba places (previously stated as a cumulative US$900 billion) upon the impact of statutes, regulations and policies by the United States since 1960.   

One issue (US$1,902,202,284.95 to US$8,521,866,156.95) which represents assets expropriated without compensation from private entities has no linkage to the perceived value (US$900 billion) of actions by one government against another.   

According to one New York City, New York-based attorney, “They are distinct from one another and attempts to conflate them only delays reckoning and harms the aspirations of the citizens of Cuba and the ROI (Return on Investment) of those governments and companies who have engaged with Cuba during the last fifty-eight years.”  

Maintaining one issue must be negotiated with the other issue may transition certified claimants from a benign group, but which does include some with enthusiasm to seek a settlement, into an attorney-inspired aggressive lot- and the worst outcome would be for the largest certified claimants to become aggressive globally.  It only takes one to create a fire from a spark.  

The Obama Administration and Castro Administration failed to use their unique moment from 17 December 2014 through 20 January 2017 to begin negotiations to settle the certified claims; there is an opportunity for the Diaz-Canel Administration to succeed where predecessors failed. 

If the Diaz-Canel Administration can seek assistance from third parties- European Union (EU)-member countries, specifically France, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with Canada, then it should do so promptly.  They can assist with outreach directly to the largest of the certified claimants where the response is likely to be positive. 

Final Thought 

Without a resolution of the certified claims, or at minimum an implemented negotiation process that has a reasonable expectation for success, the legislation proposed by Senator Klobuchar is unlikely to remain intact and could be destined for an already robust legislative graveyard.

LINK To Complete Analysis In PDF Format

klobuchar-11-ap-er-190210_hpMain_16x9_992.jpg

Commenced In 2016, Stonegate Bank's MasterCard Products Will No Longer Be Valid In Cuba As Of March 2019

As of 5 March 2019, Pompano Beach, Florida-based Stonegate Bank (now known as Centennial Bank) is discontinuing its MasterCard branded credit cards that were valid for use in the Republic of Cuba.  According to a customer service representative, the Stonegate Bank Credit Card Program is being discontinued for both consumers and businesses.  According to the text (first published and then provided by www.cubastandard.com) of a 5 February 2019 letter to customers, “Cuba enabled credit cards are no longer available.” 

In September 2017, Stonegate Bank (2017 assets approximately US$2.9 billion) was purchased by Conway, Arkansas-based Home BancShares (2018 assets approximately US$14 billion) through its Centennial Bank subsidiary. 

Neither Centennial Bank nor Home BancShares has issued a statement as to the reason(s) for the discontinuation of the credit cards for use in the Republic of Cuba.   

Natbank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of National Bank of Canada that has operated in Florida for more than twenty years, confirms that its Mastercard credit card is valid for use in the Republic of Cuba.  Natbank has locations in Boynton Beach, Hollywood and Pompano Beach. San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular of Puerto Rico, like Natbank, has authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury and from the Central Bank of the Republic of Cuba to have their Mastercard-branded credit cards and debit cards valid for use in the Republic of Cuba.  

14 June 2016- Stonegate Bank Issues MasterCard For Use In Cuba 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/6/15/stonegate-bank-issues-mastercard-for-use-in-cuba?rq=stonegate%20bank 

19 November 2015- Stonegate Bank and MasterCard Enable U.S.-Issued Debit Cards for Use in Cuba 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2015/11/19/t72fld4e3oy82ddga7e13qruje7oi8?rq=stonegate%20bank

Stonegate Bank and MasterCard Enable U.S.-Issued Debit Cards for Use in Cuba 

Stonegate is pleased to announce that the bank is now offering a Debit MasterCard that can be used at any of Cuba’s 10,000 hotels, restaurants and other card-accepting merchants. 

“This is the first step in relieving the burden of U.S. travelers carrying cash when travelling to Cuba and another step in normalizing commercial relations between the two countries. Hopefully more issuing banks will help this process by approving credit and debit cards as well,” said Dave Seleski, president and CEO of Stonegate Bank. 

Initially, cardholders will need to sign for all Debit MasterCard purchases. Stonegate expects to expand the use of the cards to ATMs in 2016. 

Before visiting Cuba, Stonegate cardholders will need to ensure they are traveling under one of the 12 categories authorized by U.S. regulations, including religious and professional purposes.

MasterCard originally removed its network block on U.S.-issued cards being used in Cuba in March 2015. Since then, federal rules left the final decision to each bank whether its cardholders will be allowed to use their cards on the island. 

“As the infrastructure continues to develop on the island, this milestone reinforces a collective effort, starting with last spring’s trade mission, to deliver our cardholders a convenient and safe way to pay when traveling to Cuba,” said Jeff Wilson, president. GeoCentral Division at MasterCard. 

For further information on obtaining a debit card, please visit www.stonegatebank.com. 

About Stonegate 

Stonegate Bank (NASDAQ: SGBK) is a full-service commercial bank, providing a wide range of business and consumer financial products and services through its 21 banking offices in its target marketplace of South and West Florida, which is comprised primarily of Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Sarasota Counties in Florida. As of September 30, 2015, Stonegate Bank had $2.31 billion in assets and $1.95 billion in deposits. Stonegate Bank’s principal executive office and mailing address is 400 North Federal Highway, Pompano Beach, Florida 33062 and its telephone number is (954) 315-5500. 

About MasterCard 

MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities — such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances — easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau. 

14 October 2016- Starwood Has A Problem With Mastercard, Cuba's Central Bank, Stonegate Bank & Banco Popular De Puerto Rico 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/10/14/starwood-has-a-problem-with-mastercard-cubas-central-bank-stonegate-bank-banco-popular-de-puerto-rico?rq=stonegate%20bank 

5 May 2018- Home BancShares Reports On Its Risks Associated With Cuba-Related Banking Services 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2018/5/5/home-bancshares-reports-on-its-risks-associated-with-cuba-related-banking-services?rq=stonegate%20bank 

Direct Correspondent Banking has yet to be implemented by Home BancShares.  In September 2017, Stonegate Bank was purchased by Home BancShares through its Centennial Bank subsidiary:   

In 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury authorized Stonegate Bank to have an account with BICSA.  Stonegate Bank provides commercial operating accounts for the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, DC and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in New York City; the financial institution also handles other types of OFAC-authorized transactions.  Stonegate Bank has a correspondent account with Republic of Cuba government-operated Banco Internacional de Comercia SA (BICSA).  However, because BICSA does not have a correspondent account with Stonegate Bank, the fully-operational direct correspondent relationship does not exist, and a multi-country triangular payment process continues- financial institutions in third countries have received fees on more than US$5.8 billion in transactions during the last eighteen years.  The Obama Administration did not authorize BICSA under a general OFAC license or reportedly in the OFAC license issued to Stonegate Bank for it to have an account with Stonegate Bank, so Stonegate Bank has processed some transactions through Panama City, Panama-based Multibank, which has dealings with the Republic of Cuba. 

Stonegate-credit-card-467x300.jpg

US Ag/Food Exports To Cuba Decreased 31.8% In November; Down By 17.4% For Year

ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA©

January 2019

 

November 2018 Food/Ag Exports To Cuba Decrease 31.8%- 1

17.4% Decrease Year-To-Year-5

Cuba Ranks 58th Of 225 U.S. Food/Ag Export Markets- 2

November 2018 Healthcare Product Exports US$321,475.00- 2

November 2018 Humanitarian Donations US$1,558,200.00- 3

Obama Administration Initiatives Exports Continue To Increase- 3

U.S. Port Export Data- 15 

NOVEMBER 2018 FOOD/AG EXPORTS TO CUBA DECREASE 31.8%- Exports of food products and agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba in November 2018 were US$14,505,604.00 compared to US$21,277,713.00 in November 2017 and US$10,594,557.00 in November 2016. 

Exporters in November 2018 included among others: Atlanta, Georgia-based AJC International (poultry); Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Koch Foods (poultry); Atlanta, Georgia-based Intervision Foods (fish/poultry); Wellesley, Massachusetts-based Grove Services (poultry) and Little Rock, Arkansas-based Mountaire Farms (poultry).

For the period January 2018 through November 2018, exports were US$212,134,634.00 compared with US$256,836,606.00 during the same period in 2017.

LINK To Complete Report In PDF Format

Surviving-Your-First-Sales-Decrease.jpg

There Are 5,913 Certified Claims; But, Only 913, Or 15%, May Be Eligible To File A Lawsuit

Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 requires that an asset had a value of US$50,000.00 when expropriated by the Republic of Cuba without compensation to the original owner. 

Of the 5,913 certified claims, 913, or approximately 15%, are valued at US$50,000.00 or more. 

Adjusted for inflation, US$50,000.00 (3.70% per annum) in 1960 has a value of US$427,267.01 in 2019. Adjusted for the 6% annual interest permitted by the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC- https://www.justice.gov/fcsc) at the United States Department of Justice, the value of US$50,000.00 in 2019 is US$1,649.384.54.

There are 8,821 claims of which 5,913 awards valued at US$1,902,202,284.95 were certified by the USFCSC have not been resolved for nearing sixty years.  The USFCSC permitted interest to be accrued in the amount of 6% per annum; with the current value of the 5,913 certified claims approximately US$8,521,866,156.95.  

From the United States District Court: “For filing an action brought under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, P.L. 104-114, 110 Stat. § 785 (1996), $6,548. (This fee is in addition to the filing fee prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) for instituting any civil action other than a writ of habeas corpus.)” 

The United States District Court fees from 913 filings would be US$5,978,324.00, representing .31% of the total value of the certified claims. 

Adjusted for inflation (3.70% per annum), US$6,548.00 (the filing fee today) in 1960 has a value of US$55,954.89 in 2019.  

At US$6,548.00 (the filing fee), filings by 290,501 plaintiffs would yield US$1,902,202,284.95 and filings by 1,301,446 plaintiffs would yield US$8,521,866,156.95. 

There have been estimates of 200,000 potential filings by plaintiffs (individuals/entities who were subject to Republic of Cuba jurisdiction rather than individuals/entities subject to United States jurisdiction) having non-certified claims against the Republic of Cuba- those filing fees would yield US$1,309,600,000.00. 

LINK To Certified Claims List

images.png

A New Way To Settle The Certified Claims? Encourage 1,301,446 Filings And They Are Paid!

One means to compensate the certified claimants without the Republic of Cuba provisioning any funds is for as many certified claimants as possible to file an action in United States District Courts.  The filing fees could fully compensate the certified claimants. 

That’s right.  Encourage as many plaintiffs as possible to file. 

So, what happens?  Plaintiffs are paying plaintiffs.  The ultimate re-circulation of funds. 

There are 8,821 claims of which 5,913 awards valued at US$1,902,202,284.95 were certified by the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC- https://www.justice.gov/fcsc) at the United States Department of Justice have not been resolved for nearing sixty years.  The USFCSC permitted interest to be accrued in the amount of 6% per annum; with the current value of the 5,913 certified claims approximately US$8,521,866,156.95.  

From the United States District Court: “For filing an action brought under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, P.L. 104-114, 110 Stat. § 785 (1996), $6,548. (This fee is in addition to the filing fee prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) for instituting any civil action other than a writ of habeas corpus.)” 

Adjusted for inflation (3.70% per annum), US$6,548.00 (the filing fee today) in 1960 has a value of US$55,954.89 in 2019.  

At US$6,548.00 (the filing fee), filings by 290,501 plaintiffs would yield US$1,902,202,284.95 and filings by 1,301,446 plaintiffs would yield US$8,521,866,156.95. 

There have been estimates of 200,000 potential filings by plaintiffs (individuals/entities who were subject to Republic of Cuba jurisdiction rather than individuals/entities subject to United States jurisdiction) having non-certified claims against the Republic of Cuba- those filing fees would yield US$1,309,600,000.00. 

Important to note that Title III of the Libertad Act requires that an asset had a value of US$50,000.00 when expropriated by the Republic of Cuba without compensation to the original owner. 

Of the 5,913 certified claims, 913 are valued at US$50,000.00 or more. 

Adjusted for inflation, US$50,000.00 (3.70% per annum) in 1960 has a value of US$427,267.01 in 2019.  Adjusted for the 6% annual interest permitted by the USFCSC, the value of US$50,000.00 in 2019 is US$1,649.384.54.

The United States District Court fees from 913 filings would be US$5,978,324.00, representing .31% of the total value of the certified claims. 

LINK To Certified Claims List 

NOTE: In 2017, The Honorable Rick Crawford (R- 1st District, Arkansas) supported a legislative effort to require 2% of each transaction (agricultural commodities and food products) within the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSREEA) by United States-based companies with Republic of Cuba government-operated entities, the proceeds of which would fund repayment of the certified claims.  The legislation would thus absolve the Republic of Cuba from any financial responsibility for compensation to the certified claimants by shifting the creation of a funding stream to the United States taxpayer.  This misguided effort was rebuffed. 

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on 3 June 2017, “The original version of HR525, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, didn't include the fee when it was filed in January.  In an interview Friday, Crawford said he plans to file an amended version of his legislation next week to reflect the change. The lawmaker estimates the 2-percent fee would generate roughly $30 million per year initially, rising to perhaps $60 million within five to seven years.” 

For US$30 million to equal 2% of the value for all TSREEA exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, the total annual value of those exports would need be US$1.5 billion, which Representative Crawford was reported to believe would be the “within five to seven years.” 

For reference, the following are the U.S. Dollar export values for TSREEA-related exports since the first deliveries in December 2001; the 2% export tax would represent US$116,998,516.76 from all eighteen (18) years of TSREEA-related exports: US$5,849,925,838.00.

Reporting Year

U.S. Dollar Value Of TSREEA-Authorized Exports To Cuba

Export Market Ranking

2018

US$197,629,030.00

56th (of 224)

2017

US$268,800,005.00 (revised +US$8,132,930.00 on 6/18)

52nd (of 229)

2016

US$232,064,645.00

55th (of 232)

2015

US$170,551,329.00

60th (of 230)

2014

US$291,258,881.00

49th (of 223)

2013

US$348,747,293.00

46th (of 224)

2012

US$457,318,357.00

43rd (of 229)

2011

US$358,457,389.00

50th (of 232)

2010

US$366,467,782.00

45th (of 228)

2009

US$528,482,955.00

36th (of 232)

2008

US$710,086,323.00

29th (of 228)

2007

US$437,564,824.00

37th (of 230)

2006

US$340,433,442.00

34th (of 227)

2005

US$350,218,040.00

30th (of 228)

2004

US$391,990,382.00

25th (of 228)

2003

US$256,901,471.00

35th (of 219)

2002

US$138,634,784.00

50th (of 226)

2001

US$4,318,906.00 (December- 1st sales under TSREEA)

144th (of 226)

Total Sales

US$5,849,925,838.00 

There are practitioners within the legal community who present that Representative Crawford's legislation is per se unconstitutional.  See United States v. Int’l Bus. Machs. Corp., 517 U.S. 843, 846-48 (1996) “[t]he Export Clause states simply and directly: ‘No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.’ U.S. Const., Art. I, § 9, cl. 5.  There have been occasions to interpret the language of the Export Clause, but cases have broadly exempted from federal taxation not only export goods, but also services and activities closely related to the export process . . . the Export Clause strictly prohibits any tax or duty, discriminatory or not, that falls on exports during the course of exportation.” 

LINK To Complete Analysis In PDF Format

RR-381x381.jpg

Update: Court Costs For Filing Libertad Act Title III Lawsuits Is US$6,548.00

Correction To Filing Fee In Analysis (Not US$400.00)

https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/fees/district-court-miscellaneous-fee-schedule 

From United States District Courts:

13. For filing an action brought under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, P.L. 104-114, 110 Stat. § 785 (1996), $6,548. (This fee is in addition to the filing fee prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) for instituting any civil action other than a writ of habeas corpus.) 

LINK To Complete Corrected 7-Page Analysis

maxresdefault.jpg

Trump Administration To EU, EC, WTO & UN? Bring It On- Title III Is Being Served

EU, WTO, UN Opposition? “Bring It On.”

Ben & Jerry’s- “You’ve Been Served”

Breaking News” For ABC/CBS/CNBC/CNN/FOX/MSNBC/NBC?

Might Title III Work?

“They Stole It.  You’re Using It.  Now They Or You Pay For It”

Media Narrative Likely Will Support Decision

25+ Companies Could Be Challenged

If Maduro Administration Ends, Far Worse For Cuba

How To Recoup US$1.9 Billion?

North Korean Embassy Is Former Home Of U.S. Journalist’s Family

A Day Of Reckoning?  21,446 Days Is Enough 

Consequential to appreciate while some occupants of The White House have absorbed criticism from international organizations as Superman would respond to kryptonite, the Trump Administration, as the MUTO in Godzilla 2014, devours and fuels by such criticism.   

On 17/18 March 2019, the Trump Administration is planning to permit Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (known as “Libertad Act”) to become operational.  The proponent slogan for Title III- “If you don’t own it, don’t use it.”   

Lawsuits could be permitted to be filed in United States Federal Courts against individuals, companies, and perhaps governments who are using an asset expropriated without compensation from the original owner and for which compensation was not paid to the original owner by the Republic of Cuba.  

The Trump Administration will likely authorize lawsuits by the 5,913 certified claimants rather than the estimated 50,000 non-certified claimants.  The most consequential decision by plaintiffs will be determining who gets sued and where they get sued.   

The failure of the Obama Administration and Castro Administration to use their unique moment created an opportunity for the Trump Administration. 

From the United States District Court: “For filing an action brought under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, P.L. 104-114, 110 Stat. § 785 (1996), $6,548. (This fee is in addition to the filing fee prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a) for instituting any civil action other than a writ of habeas corpus.)”

The following could happen even though the United States-based operations are separate from the non-United States-based corporate entities:  

It’s a “Breaking News” event for ABC/CBS/CNBC/CNN/FOX/MSNBC/NBC

Another sunny day in South Florida.  The General Manager (GM) of the ME Miami on Biscayne Boulevard greets in the lobby an individual with a warm “Buenos Dias.”  The GM then receives a document and a response- “You’ve been served.”  Palma de Mallorca, Spain-based Melia Hotels International manages thirty-four (34) properties in the Republic of Cuba. 

The process is repeated at the Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square managed by Paris, France-based Accor SA which manages properties in the Republic of Cuba. 

And on the Concourse Level at 1 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City at Blue Bottle Coffee managed by Oakland, California-based Blue Bottle Coffee Inc. or at the Nespresso Boutique on Century Square Terrace in Austin, Texas.  Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA owns both companies. 

And in picturesque, South Burlington, Vermont, at the office of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc.  The company is owned by London, United Kingdom/Rotterdam, Netherlands-based Unilever

At Kenwood, California-based Kenwood Vineyards on Highway 12, guests are enjoying a tasting, when the document arrives.  Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard owns Kenwood Vineyards. 

At O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Illinois, document servers enter the offices of Madrid, Spain-based Iberia Airlines; Toronto, Canada-based Air Canada; Paris, France-based Air France; Frankfurt, Germany-based Lufthansa; Istanbul, Turkey-based Turkish Airlines; and Amstelveen, Netherlands-based KLM.  Each airline services the Republic of Cuba. 

NH New York Jolly Madison Towers could be the scene for another document service as Madrid, Spain-based NH Hotel Group (2017 revenues approximately US$1.3 billion) with approximately 382 properties located in thirty countries, manages two properties in the Republic of Cuba.

The Seattle, Washington office of Tokyo, Japan-based Mitsubishi Group could see their morning newspapers accompanied by a notification from a court.

The captain of the 6,297-passenger MSC Virtuosa operated by Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises arrives to the Port of Miami, Florida, to be presented with a document from a court. 

United States Federal Courts in Miami, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; and in Tampa, Florida, are likely to be the epicenter of filing activity as those locations have the largest populations of individuals of Cuban descent. 

There might be filings against governments who are using a residence or other structure for an embassy, consulate, residence, etc., in the Republic of Cuba.  The Libertad Act restricts such actions, but the restriction could be challenged in court.  Certainly, unwanted publicity for a government- especially if the property is subject to a certified claim.  The residence of the family of a reporter for The Wall Street Journal is the Embassy of North Korea.  A judge might be sympathetic to that story. 

The response from the served companies (there could be twenty or more and some could be served by multiple plaintiffs) will be swift as in the words of one prominent attorney: “These are real companies with real lawyers.”  With the potential liability including treble damages, there could be substantive work for legions of paralegals. 

Or, nothing may happen, or a little may happen or a lot may happen.  That’s the challenge: no one knows; there is only speculation…. and there is a lot of that.   

The cost-effective and time-efficient solution is for the Trump Administration to agree and for the Republic of Cuba to agree to direct settlement negotiations

The certified claimants would logically prefer a “hard target” message from the Trump Administration to the Republic of Cuba- announce that by the end of one (1) additional six-month waiver of Title III, a certified claims settlement would need to be substantially near completion.  If not, then Title III would be implemented- fully implemented, which is neither beneficial to the 5,913 certified claimants nor the unknown number of non-certified claimants; only retainer-based attorneys and contingency-based attorneys would be the lottery winners.  

The Certified claimants have no reason not to want a settlement.  The is no public reporting that the largest (in terms of U.S. Dollar value) certified claimants support implementation of Title III. 

Negotiation is almost always preferable to litigation. 

Trump Administration’s Position 

From the Trump Administration- Don’t get mad at us; get mad at the three (3) successive governments of the Republic of Cuba since 1959 that have refused to agree to negotiate a settlement for the 5,913 certified claims.  And, why didn’t the Obama Administration do anything? 

If moments for a negotiation to settle the certified claims were not opportune during Obama Administration, then when?  Certainly, the bilateral relationship today would not accurately be described as optimum, but when has it been optimum?  The Obama Administration and Castro Administration failed to use the unique opportunity they created from 17 December 2014 to 20 January 2017. 

The Trump Administration has its favorite things.  Foremost is doing what the Obama Administration did not do or not doing what the Obama Administration did do.  Second, is correcting or updating what other occupants of The White House did do or did not do. 

For example, seeking changes to the Washington/Ottawa/Mexico City-based North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); Brussels, Belgium-based North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Geneva, Switzerland-based World Trade Organization (WTO); Brussels, Belgium-based European Union (EU) and European Commission (EC); New York, New York-based United Nations (UN); and Washington DC-based Organization of American States (OAS) among other bilateral, regional and multilateral entities. 

Venezuela Could Prompt Delay 

Likely only issues relating to the commercial, economic and political situation within Venezuela and its impact upon other countries could create enough momentum for a delay in the implementation of Title III. 

If the Maduro Administration ends, the financial peril for the Republic of Cuba becomes far more problematic as other countries are unlikely to replicate the sustainable economic and commercial support, which has primarily not been market-based.  The successor government will on its own, and with encouragement from the Trump Administration, curtail non-market-based transactions with the Republic of Cuba and require payment arrears to be brought current.  The Trump Administration would sense opportunity to align additional leverage to seek a settlement to the certified claims. 

Unsurprising would be for the Trump Administration to link, publicly or privately, issues relating to Venezuela with support from the EU/EC and other countries (Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, etc.) to convince the Republic of Cuba to agree to settlement negotiations of the certified claims. 

No coincidence the Trump Administration is focusing upon commercial interests in Venezuela- as there are United States-based companies whose assets were expropriated by the government of Venezuela without compensation.  That connectivity will not serve well the Republic of Cuba. 

Unhelpful to creating a bilateral (or multilateral) landscape for a settlement of the certified claims, the Trump Administration is creating a foundational narrative from which to re-designate (or threaten to re-designate) the Republic of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” primarily due to the involvement of the [Miguel] Diaz-Canel Administration in Venezuela, Colombia (ELN, FARC) and Nicaragua; and support for and relations with Iran, Syria and North Korea.  Add to this the unresolved health-related issues of diplomats from the United States and Canada in the Republic of Cuba.  Such a decision would not be in the interests of the certified claimants.  

View Of Careerists 

The decision to do something relating to Title III is done.  What the something is remains in review.   

United States Government careerists are in a majority believing that an operational Title III would 1) re-create tensions last visited in 1996 and in 1998 with the WTO, EU, EC, UN, OAS and with countries and 2) create distractions to solving other issues that are far more important to the United States than is the Republic of Cuba.    

Senior officials at the United States Department of State (DOS), United States Department of Commerce (DOC), United States Department of Agriculture (DOA) and United States Trade Representative (USTR) substantially concur that there is no vital United States interest in or gain from “pitching a hand grenade when uncertain as to how much powder is in it” in the direction of the Republic of Cuba.  That position is shared by members of the United States Congress, but not necessarily shared by the staff at the National Security Council (NSC) in The White House. 

What Could Happen & EU Reaction 

Will the Trump Administration interpret language in Title III to permit only certain claimants to file lawsuits, thus excluding others and providing preference to one class of plaintiffs at the expense of another class of plaintiffs?  That might be basis for another lawsuit. 

Certainly, the EU/EC and WTO will do something to forestall the impact of an operational Title III.  Certain countries will likely pursue recourse to protect the assets of their companies and individuals. 

The EU/EC and WTO and countries will howl if the Trump Administration permits Title III lawsuits against companies and individuals within their jurisdictions while excluding Title III lawsuits against United States-based companies and individuals who are operating in the Republic of Cuba and using an asset upon which there is a certified claim or non-certified claim.   

There will be cries of a double standard.  Lawsuit against Spain-based Iberia Airlines- OK; against Atlanta, Georgia-based Delta Air Lines (which has a certified claim)- No.  MSC Cruises- OK; against Miami, Florida-based Carnival Corporation & plc, Miami, Florida-based Norwegian Cruise Line and Miami, Florida-based Royal Caribbean International- NO.  The Trump Administration response will be: So what

All countries who have companies and individuals using assets that could be subject to Title III will argue, as they did in 1996, that Title III is exterritorial- inflicting United States laws on individuals and companies not subject to United States jurisdiction.  The countries will also remind individuals and companies subject to their jurisdiction that there are regulations and statutes in place which prevent them from complying with provisions of Title III. 

The Trump Administration (and supporters in the United States Congress) is relatively unconcerned as to the impact of implementing Title III upon the 1998 agreement with the EU/EC negotiated by The Honorable Stuart Eisenstadt, then Under Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, to remove a legal challenge by the EU/EC to the WTO:   

https://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/21/world/europeans-drop-lawsuit-contesting-cuba-trade-act.html 

Could Title III Be Effective? 

An important question to ask (and answer) is why the 8,821 claims of which 5,913 awards valued at US$1,902,202,284.95 were certified by the United States Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (USFCSC- https://www.justice.gov/fcsc) at the United States Department of Justice have not been resolved for nearing sixty years.  The USFCSC permitted interest to be accrued in the amount of 6% per annum; with the current value of the 5,913 certified claims approximately US$8,521,866,156.95.

Might using an incendiary, provocative, combustible statutory device such as Title III be such a bad idea?   

Certainly, its potentially messy, and aggravating to other countries and international organizations, and not the most congenial manner by which to have the Republic of Cuba agree to a settlement…. But, could it work?  It might.  

The largest certified claimant (Cuban Electric Company) is valued at US$267,568,413.62 and controlled by Boca Raton, Florida-based Office Depot, Inc.  The second-largest certified claim (International Telephone and Telegraph Co, ITT as Trustee, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) is valued at US$181,808,794.14 and controlled by Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International.   

The two (2) largest certified claims total US$449,377,207.76, representing 24% of the total value of the certified claims.  Thirty (30) certified claimants hold 56% of the total value of the certified claims.  This concentration of value creates an efficient pathway towards a negotiated settlement. 

Negotiating a settlement baseline with representatives of thirty certified claimants from a logistical perspective is a one-conference room exercise.  There are many rooms in Washington DC and in Havana that would be available for use.      

In December 2018, a detailed settlement negotiation proposal [https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2018/11/18/lojx6s6oe5epgonh6mub855d5ak143] was presented to representatives of the Trump Administration, staff and members of the United States Congress and to representatives of the Republic of Cuba.  The proposal outlined a public-private settlement process and included a timetable.  The purpose of the proposal was to remove the settlement process from the traditional United States government playbook and insert the private sector, the certified claimants and settlement representative.  Members of the United States Congress believe that a settlement process is preferable to intimidation. 

The Media Messaging Favors The White House 

The media narrative with respect to Title III is favorable to the Trump Administration as it appreciates each day there are additional options from which readers, viewers and listeners digest information; and the number of seconds and minutes during which a subject has for explanation continues to decrease. 

The history of the certified claims, non-certified claims, Libertad Act, EU/EC agreements, WTO agreements, etc., does not fit well into a segment, block, or limited inches of column.  

The Trump Administration, members of the United States Congress, the plaintiffs who file a lawsuit (or multiple lawsuits) and attorneys who represent the plaintiffs will dramatize simply the story: “Texaco had an oil refinery, its shareholders owned it, Cuba’s government took it and never paid for it.  Sixty years is long enough to wait to get paid.” 

The Trump Administration will ask what during the last twenty-three (23) years, what concrete steps has the EU/EC or WTO taken that have resulted in the Republic of Cuba engaging in direct settlement negotiations for the certified claims? 

The Trump Administration is gambling the EU/EC and WTO will not engage in a rhetorical, commercial, economic and political conflict with the United States because of the Republic of Cuba and at the potential determent to cooperation on other issues.  And, if the gamble is inartful, if wrong, then so be it. 

The Republic of Cuba is a commodity- and its value is low and becoming lower.  The Republic of Cuba today has far less influence, leverage and significance because of an increasing assurance among its trading partners, financial benefactors, and political brethren that the Republic of Cuba is choosing not to make commercial, economic and political changes which would provide its citizenry (and thus the government) with additional opportunities to earn foreign exchange rather than being unable to do so due to external actions by the United States.  There is less empathy for the Republic of Cuba. 

The Bilateral relationship between the EU/EC and the United States is more consequential to the EU/EC than is the EU/EC relationship with the Republic of Cuba.  Unfair, but true. 

Support by the Republic of Cuba for the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua and Syria and Iran and North Korea and China and Russia make the lack-of-support contagion even more manifest. 

Advocacy Groups- Hysteria Now; Where Were They On Certified Claims? 

The hysteria about Title III among some Washington, DC-based advocacy groups is hysterical.   

They adhere to pre-packaged and meaningfully inaccurate narratives rather than focusing upon how to solve the problem.  Focusing upon how “bad” a decision will be does little, if anything, to create alternatives for the decision-makers.  Repeating “200,000 lawsuits” is neither a viable counter-argument nor a viable strategy. 

With their professed relationships and “under the radar” influence with the government of the Republic of Cuba and during the eight years of the Obama Administration, where was a focus by the advocacy groups upon seeking settlement negotiations for the 5,913 certified claims against the Republic of Cuba? 

Arguably, the Republic of Cuba would have received a most beneficial settlement result during the Obama Administration- but it, like to Obama Administration, never modeled for a 2016 election result that was not anticipated, or desired.   

Where were the advocacy groups when the Obama Administration would approve only 50% of the license required to implement direct correspondent banking?  Silent.  Where there they when the DOC and DOA during the Obama Administration wrongly declared that their respective secretaries could not have representatives of United States companies travel with them to the Republic of Cuba?  They blindly defended the position of the Obama Administration.  

Final Thoughts 

The Republic of Cuba needs to compartmentalize the official bilateral relationship with the Trump Administration and focus upon a parallel track with the certified claimants. 

From 12 March 1996 when the Libertad Act became law to 17 March 2019 is twenty-three (23) years or 8,406 days.   

That’s Eight (8) years of the Clinton Administration, eight (8) years of the Bush Administration, eight (8) years of the Obama Administration and two (2) years of the Trump Administration.  Four presidencies

On 29 June 1960, the Republic of Cuba expropriated without compensation an oil refinery owned by White Plains, New York-based Texaco, Inc., now a subsidiary of San Ramon, California-based Chevron Corporation (USFCSC: CU-1331/CU-1332/CU-1333 valued at US$56,196,422.73).   

That’s fifty-eight (58) years ago; or more than 21,446 days.   

It’s time for direct negotiations.  Call it mediation.  Call it settling.  For the certified claimants, let’s finish it.

LINK To Complete Report In PDF Format

Trump Administration Creating Foundational Narrative To Re-Designate Cuba As "State Sponsor Of Terrorism"

The Honorable Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, referenced the Republic of Cuba in remarks delivered on 1 February 2019 in Doral, Florida.   

The Trump Administration is creating a foundational narrative from which to re-designate (or threaten to re-designate) the Republic of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” primarily due to the involvement of the [Miguel] Diaz-Canel Administration in Venezuela, Colombia (ELN, FARC) and Nicaragua; and support for and relations with Iran, Syria and North Korea.  

From The United States Department of State: “Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.  Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors. Currently there are four countries designated under these authorities: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Iran, Sudan, and Syria.”  

From Vice President Pence: “The only way he clings to power is with the help that he receives from communist Cuba.  (Applause.) The people of Venezuela know Cuba’s leaders are the real imperialists in the western hemisphere.  (Applause.)  The truth has to be told.  For decades, Cuba has tried to create client states across the region.  While normal countries export goods, Cuba exports tyranny and strong-arm tactics.  Cuba’s influence has driven Venezuela’s failure, and the time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba.  (Applause.) Cuba’s malign influence is evident in Venezuela, and also in Nicaragua, where the regime of Daniel Ortega is oppressing the people and denying their basic rights.  (Applause.)  That’s just one more reason why President Trump kept his promise when he reversed the failed policies of the last administration toward Cuba, because the Cuban people have the same birthright of liberty that God gave us all.  Venezuela deserves to be free.  Nicaragua deserves to be free.  And in this White House, under this President, it will always be Que Viva Cuba Libre!  (Applause.)”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2019

REMARKS BY VICE PRESIDENT PENCE AT VENEZUELA SOLIDARITY EVENT
 
Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center
Doral, Florida
 
 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:   Buenas tardes a todos!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Governor DeSantis; First Lady Casey DeSantis; members of Congress; Ambassador Trujillo; distinguished guests.  Karen and I are so honored to join you here in this beautiful place of worship with our fellow Americans and so many proud sons and daughters of Venezuela.  (Applause.)

And as I begin allow me to bring greetings from a friend of mine, and a great champion of liberty in Venezuela and all across this hemisphere of freedom.  I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Not long ago, on the President’s behalf, I came here to this very city to deliver a message to you.  I told you that we would be with you, that America would stand for a free Venezuela. 

And, today, the United States is proud to stand with the Venezuelan people.  And I believe the day is coming when Venezuela will be free once more -- (applause) -- when Venezuela reclaims its libertad!

AUDIENCE:  Libertad!  Libertad!  Libertad!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Now, on the President's behalf, I want to thank you all -- so many heroes in the room -- for your tireless efforts.  But let me give special thanks, before I begin, to four relentless champions of freedom for the Venezuelan people -- four leaders who have been at President Trump's side since day one, championing freedom and the restoration of democracy for the Venezuelan people.  Would you join me in thanking Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Senator Rick Scott, Governor Ron DeSantis, and Senator Marco Rubio?  (Applause.) 

The President asked me to be here to show our unwavering commitment to the good people of Venezuela.  For too long, the people of Venezuela have suffered under the heavy hand of oppression.  But now there is hope.  There is hope in Venezuela.  Across that country, in the largest cities and the smallest towns, people are rising up in defense of their rights.  And as President Trump said just last week, “the fight for freedom has begun.”  (Applause.)

And to be clear: The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum.  Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go.  (Applause.)

Just three weeks ago, the National Assembly –- the only legitimate elected body in Venezuela -– declared that it no longer recognized the Maduro regime.  The National Assembly invoked the constitution and recognized a new leader, a man who speaks for the people of Venezuela and cherishes their rights.

And last week, as hundreds of thousands of citizens marched through the streets in the name of freedom, that leader stood before his country and took an oath “before Almighty God.”  And the United States of America was proud to be the first nation on Earth to recognize the only legitimate President of Venezuela, President Juan Guaidó.  (Applause.)

I spoke to Juan Guaidó the night before he took that oath, and I'll never forget it.  I marveled at his calm, his courage, and his faith.  Just two days ago, President Trump spoke to President Guaidó and congratulated him on his historic assumption of the presidency of Venezuela.  (Applause.)  He reinforced our strong support for his leadership and for Venezuela’s fight to regain its freedom.

And the United States has made it clear: The safety and security of President Guaidó and his family are of great importance to the American people.  (Applause.) 

Just yesterday, Maduro threatened President Guiadó's family, sending paramilitary police to his home.  But we know that President Guaidó and the Venezuelan people will never be intimidated, and neither will we.  (Applause.)

The United States is proud to recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.  And Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Argentina, and many other countries have followed America’s lead.  All told, more than 20 nations have announced their support for President Guaidó.  (Applause.)

But let me make it clear to leaders around the world: That is not enough.  There can be no bystanders in the struggle for Venezuela’s freedom.  The United States, today, calls on every nation to recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s President, and take the side of freedom.  (Applause.)

The United States has also taken action to support the National Assembly and the government of Juan Guaidó.  And just this week, it was my privilege to welcome its newest representative to the White House -- a man who was imprisoned twice by the Maduro regime, forced into exile here in Florida.  But despite all he’s faced, he still works tirelessly to restore democracy in his homeland.  Would you join me in thanking the new Ambassador to the United States of America from a free Venezuela, Ambassador Carlos Vecchio.  (Applause.)

As I told Ambassador Vecchio, the National Assembly and President Guaidó have our full support because we recognize the truth that Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship is destroying Venezuela.  When the dictator came to power six long years ago, he promised to deliver an agenda of socialism.  And sadly for the Venezuelan people, Maduro did just that. A

As we gather here, Venezuela's socialism has shrunk their economy by nearly half.  More than 9 out of 10 people live in poverty, and the average Venezuelan has lost more than 20 pounds through deprivation and malnutrition.  Thousands of Venezuelan children are starving at this very hour.

And rising desperation has fueled a mass exodus.  More than three million Venezuelans have now abandoned their beloved country.  And if things don’t get better, another two million are expected to follow them before the year is out.

And those who stay behind are subject to lawlessness and crime, as well as deprivation.  Thieves in Venezuela don’t target banks; they target restaurants.  Vicious gangs and government-backed cartels have turned the streets into literal warzones.  Venezuela now has the second-highest murder rate in the world, and more than 70 people are slaughtered every single day.

For years, the Venezuelan people have tried to save their country in the ballot box.  In 2015, they elected the National Assembly that is still Venezuela’s best hope.  But in response, the dictator imprisoned his opponents, orchestrated sham elections, cracked down on protests with lethal force.  In fact, in just the past two weeks, security forces have jailed more than 850 protestors, and murdered at least 40 more.

We will never forget them.  We will always honor the memory of the martyrs who died for democracy in Venezuela.  (Applause.)

Just a few moments ago, Karen and I had the privilege to meet with several Venezuelans who have fled in search of a better life.  We heard their stories.  And they told us then that they weren’t there to tell us their story; they were there to represent all of those who could not speak in this moment. 

We spoke with Jose and Francis, who took their children and left their home two years ago.  Jose had spoken out for freedom, placing his own life in danger.

We heard from Jesus, a former council member from the city of Valera.  The government gangs began to target him, even telling his mother that they would murder him.  He had to leave his home to save his life.

We listened to Raul, wrongly accused and imprisoned for seven years, where he was tortured by the regime and witnessed others tortured as well.  He saw the murder of fellow inmates.  And he spoke today on behalf of those who are still being held.

To all of these courageous men and women, to all of you who have fled Venezuela: We are with you, and I promise we will stay with you until you can safely return home to a free Venezuela.  (Applause.)

Venezuela’s plight has captured not just the attention of our President and our people, it has stirred the United States of America to act.  We do this because it is what justice requires.  We also do this because it is in our interest, as well.

Venezuela is a failed state, and failed states know no boundaries, have no borders.  A Venezuela overrun with drug smugglers, gangs, human traffickers is a danger to all people and all nations in this hemisphere.

The very crisis on our southern border today is driven, in large part, by criminal organizations that have overwhelmed countries across our hemisphere.  Let me be clear: The United States of America wants every nation in our hemisphere to be a place where people can flourish and build their own futures in their own homeland.  (Applause.)

And so we stand.  We stand for freedom and security for the Venezuelan people.  We stand for the security of both our nations.  And I promise you, the United States will continue to stand with the Venezuelan people, and we will continue to stand up to their oppressors.  (Applause.)

At President Trump’s direction, the United States has imposed sanctions on more than 50 current and former Venezuelan officials, targeting known drug-runners and human rights abusers, and government thieves who’ve enriched themselves by impoverishing the people.

And since oil is the lifeblood of that corrupt regime, this week the United States of America sanctioned Venezuela's state-owned oil company.  Venezuela's oil belongs with the Venezuelan people.  (Applause.)

And you can be assured the United States will always support the Venezuelan people as they work to restore a constitutional government and hold free and transparent elections.  But let's be clear: This is no time for dialogue; this is time for action.  (Applause.)  And the time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all. 

(Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  To that end, the United States will continue to exert all diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy.

But those looking on should know this: All options are on the table.  (Applause.)  And Nicolas Maduro would do well not to test the resolve of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Maduro’s tyranny must end, and it must end now.  But as the Venezuelan people know, their oppressors do not act alone.  Under President Donald Trump, the United States has also stood up to those who have aided and abetted the dictatorship in Venezuela.  The truth is, the dictator has lost the support of his people, and even now is beginning to lose the support of his military.  The only way he clings to power is with the help that he receives from communist Cuba.  (Applause.)

The people of Venezuela know Cuba’s leaders are the real imperialists in the western hemisphere.  (Applause.)  The truth has to be told.  For decades, Cuba has tried to create client states across the region.  While normal countries export goods, Cuba exports tyranny and strong-arm tactics.  Cuba’s influence has driven Venezuela’s failure, and the time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba.  (Applause.)

Cuba’s malign influence is evident in Venezuela, and also in Nicaragua, where the regime of Daniel Ortega is oppressing the people and denying their basic rights.  (Applause.)  That’s just one more reason why President Trump kept his promise when he reversed the failed policies of the last administration toward Cuba, because the Cuban people have the same birthright of liberty that God gave us all.

Venezuela deserves to be free.  Nicaragua deserves to be free.  And in this White House, under this President, it will always be Que Viva Cuba Libre!  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  In addition to the strong actions President Trump has taken -- economic and diplomatic efforts -- I want to assure all of you that America has also been there for the Venezuelan people, over $100 million in humanitarian support so far.

You know, Karen and I saw firsthand the hardship facing families who’ve fled the collapse of Venezuela when we travelled through the region last year.  Like the grandmother my wife and I met in Cartagena, Colombia.  She literally gathered her four grandchildren with her because she told me how it had gotten so bad in their small town in Venezuela that the children had to rise at four in the morning to gain a ticket to buy one piece of bread at four in the afternoon.  So she gathered up her grandchildren and she made the journey to Colombia.

We gathered with families in Manaus, Brazil. And I'll never forget the father, with his two little boys at his side looking up, who told me how hard it was, and how many times he had to tell those boys, "We're not going to eat today." 

Let me assure them and you: The United States of America stands ready to deliver humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people in Venezuela, as well.  (Applause.)

We are prepared to work with the legitimate government of Venezuela, the National Assembly, and President Guaidó.  The American people will marshal our resources and the resources of nations around the world to provide millions in humanitarian relief. 

The truth is, it is unconscionable that Maduro himself has publicly refused to accept even a penny from America or the wider world in the form of humanitarian relief for his people. 

The truth is, every day the dictator remains in power is another day of starvation and suffering.  For the sake of the men, women, and children of Venezuela, Maduro must go.  (Applause.)

Thank you all for being here today.  We’re truly honored by your presence and your support.  You know, freedom springs from the hearts of all the people of across this New World, doesn’t it?  And in the words of Simón Bolivar, “A people that loves freedom will, in the end, be free.”  (Applause.)  And we believe that.

Tomorrow, for the second time this week, from the shores of the Caribbean to the streets of Caracas, to the foothills of the Andes, the Venezuelan people will rise again in peaceful protest.  They will speak again with one voice, as one movement, with one purpose as they take to the streets to demand their rights, and the United States of America will stand with them.  (Applause.)

And to them we say, as you make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the President of the United States and the American people, we say to all the good people of Venezuela: Estamos con ustedes.  We are with you, we stand with you, and we will stay with you until democracy is restored.  (Applause.)

And we also say from our hearts that as you take to the streets again, know that you do not go alone.  You go with the support of the American people and with freedom-loving people all across the world.  And you also go, I believe with all of my heart, with the author of freedom, who said, “Do not be afraid; stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… for where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”  (Applause.)

With faith in that great promise, faith in all who have joined us in this hemisphere of freedom, with faith in the courage and strength of the Venezuelan people, and the generosity and strength of the American people, I believe with all my heart: The day is coming soon when Venezuela will once more be free, when her people will see a “new birth of freedom,” in a nation reborn to libertad.

So to the good people of Venezuela: As you go to seek your freedom, we go with you.  You go with God.  Vayan con Dios.  God bless you, God bless the good people of Venezuela, and God bless the United States of America.

Vice President Mike Pence makes South Florida stop to discuss crisis in Venezuela 20190201171645.jpg_18407029_ver1.0_1280_720.jpg

Washington: We Have A Problem; Avoiding The "C" Word

Washington..  We Have A Problem 

The short: The Trump Administration wants the Maduro Administration to leave.  H.E. Nicolas Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela wants to stay.  The governments of the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China believe that the repayments of what could be approaching US$100 billion might be best served by President Maduro remaining in office.  The Republic of Cuba wants the Chavez Administration (1999-2013) to return.  

If the Trump Administration provided assurances that the commercial interests of each country, which are not the same with respect to what they have received and what they want would be guaranteed, they each might support the removal of President Maduro and his exile to the Republic of Cuba.   

European Union (EU)-member countries and some in The Americas are advocating an eight-day deadline for new elections to be scheduled in Venezuela.  The Trump Administration suggests that new elections are a condition; however, it does not want only new elections- it wants President Maduro gone and whether in a vertical or horizontal position is of little consequence.  This is ugly and will get uglier. 

Terrified & The “C” Word 

The Republic of Cuba, Russian Federation, and People’s Republic of China are terrified by the statement of The Honorable Mike Pompeo, United States Secretary of State, at the United Nations on 26 January 2019: “We hope that every nation will join us in recognizing interim president Juan Guaido. We hope too that each of those nations will ensure that they disconnect their financial systems from the Maduro regime and allow the assets that belong to the Venezuelan people to go to the rightful governors of that state.”  The United States could use the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to subjugate Venezuelan assets in the United States, thus preventing asset transfers.  The Trump Administration would need tread carefully as the Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China could implement retaliatory actions in their territories against the private sector assets of United States companies. 

Think 1964 in Brazil, 1973 in Chile, and multiple times from 1930 to 1976 in Argentina.  In the case of Venezuela in 2019, there may be conflict between military personnel loyal to the Maduro Administration, those loyal of the sovereignty of Venezuela, and those influenced by the Republic of Cuba, Russian Federation and People’s Republic of China.  Factions seeking leverage, and thus the capitulation of other factions.  The Trump Administration will do everything- above and below the fold, to avoid culpability for what media and governments would define as a coup.   

The question that may be unknown now is what each faction would want once they secure control of the population of Venezuela- and would they immediately close borders with Brazil and Colombia as a means to stabilize the country and stabilize their neighbors whose assistance any new government in Venezuela will require to survive and to prosper. 

Few Options For Cuba 

The Republic of Cuba would have few options but to support a transition from the Maduro Administration to the Guaido Administration if their commercial interests were assured to continue or, at minimum, decrease on a timetable that would be least disruptive to the Republic of Cuba.  The promising scenario for the Republic of Cuba is the commercial and economic relationship with Venezuela has been declining at an ever-increasing rate during the last five years, so the prospective pain, and there would be pain, could be manageable if the Republic of Cuba continued to establish a commercial, economic and political infrastructure, albeit one that it does not want and one that it desperatelys want to avoid. 

The Trump Administration, with the support of Members of the United States Congress, would prefer that a Guaido Administration sever immediately commercial and economic support provided to the Republic of Cuba and Nicaragua.  And, to make public, in the same way that the Bolsonaro Administration has in Brazil, the inter-workings of twenty years of transactions- beginning with the Chavez Administration in 1999.  Quite likely document-shredding has well-progressed in Caracas and in Havana. 

The New 70-Year-Old 

The Honorable Rex Tillerson, United States Secretary of State from 1 February 2017 to 31 March 2018, reportedly wanted The Honorable Elliott Abrams to be Deputy Secretary of State; reportedly, the Trump Administration opposed the selection due to comments by Mr. Abrams deemed critical of The Honorable Donald Trump, President of the United States. 

Secretary Pompeo, United States Secretary of State since 26 April 2018, requested and received authorization from the Trump Administration for Mr. Abrams to manage issues relating to Venezuela- and seek the removal of President Maduro. 

Mr. Abrams will be joining a National Security Council staff whose focus towards Venezuela, the Republic of Cuba and Nicaragua will be perhaps the most visceral and probing and unilateral and multilateral thus far in the twenty-first century.   

Members of the United States Congress, while warning that the Trump Administration must avoid a perception (or reality) of blame for the demise of the Maduro Administration, particularly if there are widespread retributions in the form of murder and execution, will generally support the Trump Administration- and if there are forced changes to the commercial, economic and political infrastructures in the Republic of Cuba and in Nicaragua, that will be perceived as a bonus worth celebrating. 

The global political pendulum continues to swing- and the Trump Administration, while vilified abroad for unilateral actions, is finding support amongst those who were critical. 

If changes in Venezuela are swift and clean, then the Trump Administration will have and will aggressively use any political currency to seek changes to the Republic of Cuba and to Nicaragua.    

Cuba Has A Moment 

The Republic of Cuba is in a strengthened position to agree to a public-private mediation proposal [LINK] currently under review by the Trump Administration to resolve the 5,913 certified claims (valued at US$1.9 billion) by United States nationals against the Republic of Cuba.  Two of the certified claimants represent approximately 24% of the total owed; thirty represent approximately 56% of the total.  That’s a group that can fit on one aircraft, in one meeting room and participate in one conference call.  The certified claimants want a deal; the Trump Administration wants a deal; members of the United States Congress want a deal.  And, EU-members, Japan, Canada, and others want the Republic of Cuba to rid itself of the issue so that the Republic of Cuba marketplace becomes overtly and substantially attractive rather than potentially menacing.  The issue of the certified claims is not going to vanish; it’s lasted sixty years.  The Diaz-Canel Administration, as a uniquely transitional portal from one century to another, can and should agree to mediation.   

The Trump Administration is planning to authorize some lawsuits to be filed in United States Federal Courts against companies and perhaps governments (think locations of embassies and consulates and residences for diplomats) who are using assets in the Republic of Cuba that were expropriated without compensation from their owners.  Unknown is whether the authorization will permit only those who are certified claimants, those who are not certified claimants, or a combination of each class.  Title III of the Libertad Act of 1996 will be implemented in March 2019; the only question is to what extent- and whether the predictions of court-filing calamity will be realized and EU and World Trade Organization (WTO) retribution will materialize.  All actors will be determining whether the Republic of Cuba worth the effort.   

Final Thought

Although the Trump Administration is advocating for free and fair elections, which President Maduro could presumably win, the goal is, in the words of Secretary Pompeo, “to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country.”  The Trump Administration wants to avoid Gaza Strip of January 2006 (Bush Administration) and Egypt of June 2012 (Obama Administration) where there was recognition that elections were generally clean of issues- but in each instance, the preferred candidates of the United States were defeated. 

There is a problem.

LINK To Complete Text In PDF Format

United States Condems Role Of Cuba In Venezuela: This Will Only Get Worse For Havana

Remarks

Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

United Nations

New York City

January 26, 2019  

Good morning. On behalf of President Trump and the American people I first want to thank Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas of the Dominican Republic, the current president of the Security Council, for scheduling this meeting. My former colleague, Ambassador Haley, lobbied for a year to get the council to address Venezuela but her pleas fell on deaf ears. This meeting is long overdue. And you all know why it’s overdue.  

Take Carlos Aquino, a 37-year-old construction worker, weeping over the tiny coffin of his deceased infant son who had died of starvation.  

Such scenes of misery are now the norm in Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela where millions of children are suffering from malnutrition and starvation thanks to a socialist experiment that caused the economy to collapse. This human misery isn’t a secret. Stories like this one are well documented by our press corps. You can read about men like Carlos every day. People like him are why the United States has called this meeting.  

We’re here because Maduro has reduced ordinary Venezuelans who once lived in prosperity to rooting through dumpsters to find something to eat.  

We’re here because scores of Venezuelan women, some of them teenagers, have fled Maduro’s madness to other countries, and in desperation turned to prostitution to survive.  

We’re here because of Maria Vielma, a school psychologist who said through tears, “We have a government that is dedicated to destroying, not to constructing.”  

Another man, a farmer named Vladimir Sequera, who never got more than a sixth grade education but he hoped that his stepdaughter Gabriela could fulfill her dreams of being a lawyer – she now says, “Our whole future has been taken away.” That future, for her and all Venezuelans, didn’t magically disappear on its own. The Maduro regime’s failed policies, oppression, and corruption stole that future.  

The United States is helping to recover a brighter future for Venezuela. We’re here to urge all nations to support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people as they try to free themselves from former President Maduro’s illegitimate mafia state.  

The humanitarian situation demands action now; it demands action today. Today nine out of ten citizens live in poverty. Millions lack access to drinking water and food. Three out of four hospitals have been abandoned. Three million Venezuelans have been forced to flee their homeland thereby flooding the region and threatening international peace and security. Maduro’s prisons are full of political prisoners unjustly behind bars and the graveyards hold dissidents and protesters that have been killed by this regime.  

I want to talk to you about just one of them, a member of the city council of Caracas named Fernando Alban. Just four months ago he came here to this city to meet with the world’s representatives who gather here every year during the United Nations General Assembly. He came here to speak about the failures of the Maduro regime and about his hopes for a more democratic and a more prosperous future for his country.

After that he went home. He went home to the country that he loved. Maduro’s secret police arrested him at the airport as soon as he landed. He died in their custody three days later and the pathetic explanations for this death have convinced absolutely no one.  

The time is now to support the Venezuelan people, to recognize the new democratic government led by interim President Guaido, and end this nightmare. No excuses.  

The United States stands with the Venezuelan people. So far, many other nations have chosen to do the same and they too have recognized the legitimate government of interim President Guaido. The United States stands proudly with you as we stand together in support of Venezuela. You knew the Venezuelan people did not have a moment to spare.  

And now it’s time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.  

Some countries have publicly taken former President Maduro’s side. China, Russia, Syria, and Iran are just four of them. Just this morning we tried to find a way for this council to speak in one voice in support of the Venezuelan people and the democratic ideals through a presidential statement on this council, but our Russian and Chinese colleagues refused to let this move forward. It’s not a surprise that those who rule without democracy in their own countries are trying to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straits.  

Nor are these countries supporting international norms as they cynically claim. China and Russia are propping up a failed regime in hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years. This money was never intended to help the Venezuelan people, it lined the pockets of the Maduro regime, its cronies, and its benefactors.  

But no regime has done more to sustain the nightmarish condition of the Venezuelan people than the regime in Havana. For years, Cuban security and intelligence thugs, invited into Venezuela by Maduro himself and those around him, have sustained this illegitimate rule. They have trained Maduro’s security and intelligence henchmen in Cuba’s own worst practices. Cuba’s interior ministry even provides a former – provides former President Maduro’s personal security. Members of this body often use their microphones here to condemn foreign interference in internal affairs. Let’s be crystal clear: the foreign power meddling in Venezuela today is Cuba. Cuba has directly made matters worse and the United States and our partners are the true friends of the Venezuelan people.  

On Wednesday, the Venezuelan people chose to take their country back on the anniversary of the day the dictator Marcos Jimenez Perez was forced out of power back in 1958.  

We call for Venezuelans to work now together to peacefully restore the constitutional government and return the country to a secure, democratic, and prosperous path. As we read reports of peaceful Venezuelan protesters killed or wounded, we also repeat our insistence that Venezuela’s security services show restraint.

And I want to be 100 percent clear: President Trump and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention. Do not test the United States on our resolve to protect our own people.  

We hope that the international community will support the people of Venezuela and the transitional government led by Juan Guaido. On January 23rd, Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela in accordance with Venezuela’s own constitution. He made this declaration with the full support of the National Assembly and of the Venezuelan people. Our nations must stand up for the rule of law and support the leader who the Venezuelan people have affirmed as their legitimate interim president. It is our hope that free and fair elections happen as soon as possible.  

Back in 1961, President Kennedy spoke in Caracas. He declared, “We will be partners in building a better life for our people.”  

America’s ambition has not changed since that day. We stand with the Venezuelan people as they seek to build a better life for themselves and we cannot ignore the suffering or tyranny taking place in this proud nation. Neither should other countries who care about freedom and prosperity.  

Today we call on all members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and interim President Guaido’s role in it. Thank you.

unnamed.jpg

Elliot Abrams Appointment Will Impact U.S. Policy Towards Cuba- Increasing Financial Strains

Remarks

Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

Press Briefing Room

Washington, DC

January 25, 2019  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Good afternoon, everyone.  

Today I am incredibly excited to announce that a seasoned, principled, and tough-minded foreign policy veteran is joining our State Department team.  

Elliott Abrams is coming aboard to lead our efforts on Venezuela.  

His critical work will get started right away. Tomorrow, he will travel with me to the UN Security Council, where the United States has called a long overdue meeting to urge other nations to support Venezuela’s democratic transition.  

Elliott’s long career in foreign affairs includes a great deal of time as a senior leader in this very organization. Under President Reagan, he served as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs and assistant secretary for inter-American affairs as well.  

Under President George W. Bush, he served on the National Security Council as the senior director for democracy, human rights, and international affairs; senior director for North African and Near East affairs; and deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy.  

Elliott’s passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples makes him a perfect fit and a valuable and timely addition. This week, the Venezuelan people have rejected former President Maduro’s illegitimate rule. Consistent with Venezuela’s constitution, and with the support of the Venezuelan people and the National Assembly, Juan Guaido has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela.  

These are just the first steps on Venezuela’s road to liberty. Elliott will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country.

On this issue and all others, he is eager to advance President Trump’s agenda and promote the ideals and interests of the American people.  

And now Elliott would like to say a few words.  

MR ABRAMS: Thank you. Very briefly, I left this building 30 years ago this week, last time I worked here. So it’s very nice to be back. This crisis in Venezuela is deep and difficult and dangerous, and I can’t wait to get to work on it. Thank you.  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thanks.  

MR PALLADINO: All right, guys, we’ve got time for a question or two. Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg, please.  

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary.  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, sir.  

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit – in a little bit more detail about what Mr. Abrams will be doing, what will his first task be, what will his chief focus be, will he travel to the region? And also, can you talk a little bit about some of the – what will happen to Venezuela’s overseas assets? For example, the gold that it has in the Bank of England, money it has in overseas accounts – will the expectation be that the interim president would have control over those funds?  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, as to your first question, Elliott will have responsibility for all things related to our efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela. It’s a global challenge. There are multiple dimensions to how we hope to assist the Venezuelans in achieving democracy there, and he will be responsible for leading that effort.  

We have an enormous team here that’s done truly remarkable work to date to get us to the point we are at today, and they’ve done this over certainly my eight months, but long preceding that as well. I’m incredibly proud of the work that our State Department team has done to date. Elliott will now lead our effort that relates directly to our efforts on behalf of the Venezuelan people.

I would expect, though, that his first task will be to get up to speed and then travel with me to New York tomorrow morning for the UN Security Council meeting. And after that, I couldn’t tell you where it will take him. Wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up traveling to the region, but what – the road ahead will be driven by the demands of the Venezuelan people and how we can assist them in achieving the outcome that America wants them to achieve.  

QUESTION: And on the overseas assets?  

SECRETARY POMPEO: On the overseas assets, we’ll have announcements from other places later today talking about how it is that we anticipate the interim President Juan Guaido will have the resources he needs to lead the Government of Venezuela forward.  

MR PALLADINO: Let’s take a question from South America, so NTN. Gustau, please.  

QUESTION: NTN 24, Gustau Alegret. Among the countries that has not recognized Juan Guaido as president are Mexico and Uruguay, and both countries has offered their diplomacies in order to help in the crisis. Is the U.S. thinking to work with them, or is the U.S. asking them to recognize Guaido? What’s the position of the State Department with these two countries?  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we think every country ought to recognize the constitutional leader of Venezuela, and that’s who the United States has concluded Juan Guaido is, the interim president of Venezuela. We think every country ought to recognize the Venezuelan constitution, the demands of the Venezuelan people.  

So whether it is Mexico or Uruguay or any other country, we hope to work with them to achieve the sense that we can ultimately have a free and fair election in Venezuela, where the voices of the Venezuelan people who, under the Maduro regime, have been starved. Enormous medical and humanitarian situation in Colombia, more than a million refugees have fled the horrors of the Maduro regime. We’ll work with all nations to try and achieve that outcome. We think every country ought to take steps towards achieving that, and not side with this cruel dictator in Venezuela who has caused so much devastation for the people of Venezuela.  

MR PALLADINO: Wrap it up, sir?  

SECRETARY POMPEO: I think one more.  

MR PALLADINO: Let’s go to Washington Post. Carol Morello.  

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I think a lot of people are concerned about the diplomats who are down there. Would you tell us what you’re prepared to do if tomorrow, when the 72-hour deadline passes, they – the Venezuelans cut off electricity and water, maybe even surround the building, or even try to go in to bring out the diplomats by force? Could you be specific about what you are prepared to do in the event of any of these scenarios? And how can you assure people that they are protected?  

SECRETARY POMPEO: I appreciate that question. There’s been no activity that’s taken more of our time over the past days than ensuring the protection of all those folks that are under our chief of mission authority there in Venezuela. We’re working diligently to make sure that they are protected. There’s no higher priority for the Secretary of State, and you should know no higher priority for the President of the United States. We have discussed this at some length.  

With respect to the way we will deliver that, we’ve made clear to everyone that it is our expectation that the U.S. officials that are there, that have now been invited to be there by interim President Juan Guaido have a right, they have the privileges and immunities that accrue to having been invited to be there by the duly credentialed leader of Venezuela, and we have every expectation that those rights will continue to be protected.  

You would have seen today that we have ordered a – have an ordered departure. We’re beginning to move some of our staff out. This is consistent with what the State Department does every day. The first briefing I get every morning is all around the world, every mission, every consulate, every facility where we have officers, I receive a briefing on risk and risk analysis. We’ll continue to do that in Venezuela. It is literally a 24/7, moment-by-moment exercise to evaluate risk to the people who work for me in the State Department, and we’ll get this right. We will make sure that we protect our folks on the ground and take all appropriate measures to ensure that they’re protected.

Thank you.  

QUESTION: And if they’re not?  

MR PALLADINO: Thank you guys.  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you all.  

MR PALLADINO: Thank you very much.  

QUESTION: Has the meeting tomorrow been scheduled at the Security Council?

e145c217-9332-4045-bc3b-f0dcf9a9615b-AP_US_Venezuela.JPG

US Secretary Of State To OAS: Cuba Must Cease Supporting Venezuela

Remarks

Michael R. Pompeo

Secretary of State

Organization of American States

Washington, DC

January 24, 2019  

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much. The United States is a friend of Venezuela and of the Venezuelan people. We have watched Venezuelans suffer for far too long. We know what they know, that the tyranny of the now defunct Maduro regime has far too long – for far too long choked the country and its citizens.  

Yesterday, in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, and out of respect for Venezuelan democracy, the United States proudly recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. You’ve seen the statements from President Trump and from myself.  

Many other countries, including a number of OAS states, have also recognized the interim president. We thank them for their support.  

It’s now time for the OAS as an institution as a whole to do the same. All OAS member states must align themselves with democracy and respect for the rule of law. All member states who have committed to uphold the Inter-American Democratic Charter must now recognize the interim president.  

The time for debate is done. The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. His regime is morally bankrupt, it’s economically incompetent, and it is profoundly corrupt. It is undemocratic to the core. I repeat: The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. We, therefore, consider all of its declarations and actions illegitimate and invalid.  

In light of these facts, we call on Venezuelan security forces to ensure the protection of interim President Guaido’s physical integrity and his safety. We’ve seen reports that a number of protesters were killed yesterday and that more than one hundred were arrested, so I reiterate our warning about any decision by remnant elements of the Maduro regime to use violence to repress the peaceful democratic transition.  

The United States did not arrive at this conclusion overnight. We came to this conclusion after a long and bitter experience and following a considered assessment of the facts. And we’re not alone. The OAS General Assembly has itself agreed to these facts. In June of last year, the OAS General Assembly declared the re-election of former president Maduro an invalid sham. This past January 10th, the OAS Permanent Council declared former president Maduro’s second term illegitimate.  

Venezuela’s National Assembly became the only legitimate, duly and democratically elected body in the country. On January 23rd, National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, pursuant to Article 333 and 350 of Venezuela’s constitution. He made this declaration with the full support of the National Assembly and, most importantly, of the Venezuelan people.  

In his public address, interim President Guaido also outlined the steps he plans to take to restore democracy to his country, including free, fair, transparent, and truly democratic elections.  

The United States stands solidly behind him. We stand ready to support the efforts of the National Assembly, the Venezuelan people, and the interim president to restore democracy and respect for the rule of law in Venezuela.  

We also stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela as soon as logistically possible. Today, I am announcing that the United States is ready to provide more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela. These funds are to help them cope with the severe food and medicine shortages and other dire impacts of their country’s political and economic crisis. Our announcement of aid is in response to a request from the National Assembly, led by the interim president.  

As a friend of the Venezuelan people, we stand ready to help them even more, to help them begin the process of rebuilding their country and their economy from the destruction wrought by the criminally incompetent and illegitimate Maduro regime.  

Our support for Venezuela’s democratic hopes and dreams is in sharp contrast to the authoritarian regimes across the globe who have lined up to prop up former President Maduro. And there is no regime which has aided and abetted Maduro’s tyranny like the one in Havana. Maduro’s illegitimate rule was for years sustained by an influx of Cuban security and intelligence officials. They schooled Venezuela’s secret police in the dark arts of torture, repression, and citizen control. Maduro was a fine student at the Cuban academy of oppression.  

We call on the OAS and all its member states to act on basic, decent, democratic principles and the incontrovertible facts on the ground.  

Each of us – each of us – must live up to our calling to promote and defend democracy, as expressed in the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, to which everyone in this chamber is a signatory.  

And we call on all our partners and responsible OAS member states to show leadership and pledge support for Venezuela’s democratic transition and for interim President Guaido’s pivotal role in that.  

We look forward to welcoming Venezuela back into the fold of responsible democratic nations and remaining in our inter-American community. We look forward to welcoming representation of the interim Venezuelan Government to the OAS at the earliest possible opportunity. And we look forward to working with all responsible OAS member states, with the Venezuelan people, our inter-American system, and with the interim government of President Guaido to restore democracy in Venezuela.  

We – we each – have a critical opportunity to help the Venezuelan people live free once again. I ask my colleagues to reconvene a meeting of foreign ministers to continue our conversation on the peaceful democratic transition for Venezuela. History will remember whether we help them or not. The United States calls on all nations of the OAS to make the right choice and make that right choice right now. Thank you.

300300p1698EDNmainOEA-ENG-Vert-01.png

Governor Of Florida; Two Senators From Florida Have Formed A Formadable Obstacle

Comments From The Honorable Ron DeSantis (R), Governor of the State of Florida, after a meeting on 22 January 2019 with The Honorable Donald Trump, President of the United States to discuss topics including Venezuela and the Republic of Cuba.  Also attending the meeting were two members of the United States Senate: The Honorable Marco Rubio (R- Florida) and The Honorable Rick Scott (R- Florida). 

Senator Rubio: “Venezuela has a constitution. The guy who claims to be president now was not elected under that constitution and under their constitution, when there’s a vacancy in the presidency, the rightful president is the president of the national assembly, pending a new election. And we encouraged the president today to follow through with what he’s already declared, which is that Maduro is illegitimate. The next logical step is to recognize the president of the national assembly as the rightful president.” 

Governor DeSantis: “With Cuba, now’s the time to put more pressure. Cuba is the cancer that leads to a lot of the problems that we see in Latin America. The president listened to our arguments about doing Title 3. I think that’s in the national security interest of the country. But I can also say as governor of Florida, that would be very resonant with the people in South Florida, particularly Miami.”

whitehousevalue-re-97765250-1920x720.jpg

Cuba Continues To Rely On Donated Garbage Trucks

Compilation From Granma

Havana, Republic of Cuba

30 October 2019 

Around 100 collector trucks for the collection of solid waste are being conditioned in Japan for shipment to Cuba in March 2019, as part of the ten million dollars that the Japanese government donated for the cleaning of Havana in the face of its 500 years. 

According to Granma, the first phase of the collaboration project also includes the supply of specific tools for the repair of equipment and spare parts for Hino vehicles. 

The trucks will arrive to the Island through the Sumitomo Corporation, one of the ten Japanese companies participating in the thirty-sixth edition of the International Fair of Havana FIHAV 2018.

María Isabel Valdés Jiménez, assistant manager of the entity, assured the official newspaper that “in addition to the proven quality of the trucks is that of the application that constitutes the collector, whose manufacture is carried out by the company Jokutong, one of the best in its specialty “in Japan. 

The manufacturing process began after the tests carried out in the Cuban capital by Japanese specialists, to take into account the operating conditions of the collector equipment. 

Currently the collection of garbage and solid waste is one of the most serious problems in Havana. The situation causes constant complaints from the inhabitants.  The city urgently needs at least 92 collector trucks and currently only works with an average of 40 or 42. There are 40 pieces of equipment pending repair in the workshops, according to a recent government meeting that addressed the issue. 

Valdés Jiménez said that the Japanese donation will come in three items. The government, unable to properly manage garbage for decades, has placed its hopes on this project to clean up its image and that of Havana for the celebrations of its 500th anniversary, in November 2019. 

The donation is made through the Agent Agreement, signed at the end of 2017 between the System of International Cooperation of the Asian nation (JICS, for its acronym in English) and the Council of the Provincial Administration of Havana. 

The after-sales activities and maintenance of the trucks will be carried out by the Somitomo Corporation, which assists FIHAV with environmental hygiene products for flies and mosquitoes and a growth regulator to combat the Aedes aegypti, with which satisfactory tests have already been carried out. Pinar del Río, according to Granma.  It is the third consecutive occasion that Japan occupies a pavilion in the most important commercial exchange of the Cuban Government. 

Relations between Tokyo and Havana have experienced a boom in the last three years.  In 2016 more than 400 companies visited Cuba to seek business opportunities and both governments reached an agreement for the reordering of Cuban debt. 

The re-launching of bilateral ties highlights visits to the Japanese capital by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in 2015 and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016. That year, Miguel Díaz-Canel traveled to Japan when he was still in charge of first Cuban vice president 

Prensa Latina News Agency

Havana, Republic of Cuba

16 January 2019 

Havana, Jan 16 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, highlighted a project funded by the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS) to enhance collection of solid waste in this capital.  

For Havana: The biggest thing. An important project funded by JICS, an institution of the Japanese government for international cooperation, aimed at bettering collection of solid waste in the capital on its 500th anniversary, Malmierca tweeted on Wednesday.

In this regard, the Cuban ambassador to Japan, Carlos Miguel Pereira, told Prensa Latina that Cuba and Japan are going through a good moment in their relations, while both governments promote bilateral cooperation.

With the dispatch of 24 solid waste collection trucks to Havana, the first phase of a project to help Cuba by the Japan International Cooperation Agency began on Tuesday.

According to the diplomat, the initiative consists of several phases in the modality of Non-reimbursable Financial Assistance, one of the variants of cooperation offered to Cuba since 2016 after the visit to Havana of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The Hino Motors collector trucks, which departed from the Japanese port of Kobe, should arrive in the Cuban capital on March 2.

In total there will be 100 similar vehicles, with specialized technology from Kyokuto, which will arrive in Havana port in three more shipments before the end of November, when the Cuban capital celebrates its 500th anniversary.

In addition, as part of the project, Cuba will receive during the course of this year dump trucks, lifting baskets, chainsaws and other equipment for the restoration and embellishment of Havana.

Both nations strengthened their cooperation on March 9, when JICS inaugurated its permanent office in Cuba in order to promote bilateral cooperation projects for the sustainable development of Cuba.

ACN

Havana, Republic of Cuba

16 January 2019 

HAVANA, Cuba, Jan 16 (ACN) (ACN) With the shipment in Japan of the first 24 solid waste collection trucks bound for Havana, the first phase of a Cuban-Nippon project that will contribute to the hygienization of the Cuban capital began.

Rodrigo Malmierca, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex), said on Twitter that this is an important project funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICS), Japan's government institution for international cooperation, aimed at strengthening the solid waste collection activity in the capital on its 500th anniversary. 

Also in Twitter, Carlos Miguel Pereira, Cuban ambassador to Japan, said that this is the first phase of the program in the form of Non-Reimbursable Financial Assistance for economic and social development of Cuba, which includes a hundred trucks. 

The Hino Motors collection trucks, which departed from the Japanese port of Kobe, must arrive in the Cuban capital on March 2, reports Prensa Latina agency from Tokyo.  A total of 100 similar vehicles, with Kyokuto's specialized technology, will arrive at the Havana port in three more shipments before the end of November, the diplomat said.

In addition, as part of the project, Cuba will receive this year dump trucks, lifting baskets, chainsaws and other equipment for the restoration and beautification of Havana.

According to the diplomat, the initiative consists of several phases in the form of Non-Refundable Financial Assistance, one of the variants of cooperation offered to Cuba from 2016 after the visit to Havana of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The ambassador pointed out that other collaboration initiatives have already been implemented with this Asian nation, such as the supply of advanced medical equipment for the modernization of the Cuban hospital system, and it is planned to continue the exchange with projects related to agricultural development and also in energy matters. 

Previous Post Relating To Donated Garbage Trucks 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2018/11/18/man-of-germany-donates-ten-garbage-trucks-to-cuba?rq=garbage

Robust Context Is Important For The Crediblity Of Advocacy

On 17 January 2019, a Washington DC-based advocacy organization published information that should have included more robust context.  The following includes information shared with organization: 

Organization Published: “The 1992 Cuba Democracy Act (CDA) prohibits foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba. It also establishes the “180-day rule,” which prevents vessels from loading and unloading freight in the U.S. if it has aided trade with Cuba in the past 180 days.” 

Consider Adding: The Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992 also re-authorized the export of healthcare products (medical equipment, medical instruments, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba and re-authorized the provision of telecommunications services.  There are no restrictions as to payment terms.  The United States Secretary of the Treasury may waive the 180-day restriction; and has done so on many occasions since 1992. 

Organization Published: “The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000 authorizes certain agricultural, pharmaceutical, and medical device exports to Cuba, but stipulates that these transactions must be paid for by cash in advance, effectively prohibiting private financing for exports to Cuba. It also restricts tourist travel to Cuba.” 

Consider Adding: The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000 re-authorized the direct export of agricultural commodities and food products from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.  To our knowledge, there are no “certain” agricultural commodities.  We would be interested to learn the source for the information that you provided.  The TSREEA was not the re-authorizing statute for healthcare products; the TSREEA changed nothing relating to the export of healthcare products.  Healthcare product exports remain subject to the CDA of 1992.  The TSREEA does not restrict tourist travel by individuals subject to United States jurisdiction to the Republic of Cuba; the statute prohibits such travel.  Since the first exports under TSREEA of agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba in December 2001, the total value of agricultural commodity and food product exports exceed US$5.8 billion on a cash-in-advance basis. 

Organization published: “U.S. companies are thriving in Cuba despite the embargo’s remaining economic restrictions, including Airbnb, Marriott, five major U.S. airlines, Google, Expedia, Caterpillar, and Stonegate Bank.”  

Consider Adding: We would suggest that the use of the word “thriving” is inaccurate.  Marriott International (through a subsidiary) has one management contract and is expecting to commence another- three years after reporting that it would commence the second management contract.  Caterpillar has not officially reported sales to Republic of Cuba government-operated entities or non-Republic of Cuba government-operated entities.  The five major (American, Delta, Jet Blue, United and Southwest) airlines have, as a group, fewer flights today than when they commenced service; and load factors outside of Florida remain unstable; other airlines were authorized to commence services and did not do so.  Some airlines commenced service and have discontinued service.  Google donated equipment; the company has not reported any sales of equipment.  Google has confirmed that its offers to provide country-wide Internet services has not been accepted.  Stonegate Bank engages in some transactions using Panama-based Multibank in a triangular payment transfer process; and the Obama Administration did not simplify the process for Stonegate Bank to commence direct correspondent banking with the Republic of Cuba government-operated financial institution with whom Stonegate Bank has an account; and the current owner of Stonegate Bank, Arkansas-based Home BancShares, has refused to discuss why it will not pursue a direct correspondent banking agreement.  The government of the Republic of Cuba has thus far refused to authorize United States companies to directly export products to the registered self-employed in the Republic of Cuba; the Obama Administration authorized such transactions.  The government of the Republic of Cuba has thus far refused access the Republic of Cuba marketplace by United States-based consumer retail and consumer service providers; there are many United States companies (including law firms, consultancies, accounting firms) who sought, but were refused authorization to establish offices in the Republic of Cuba.

accuracy-4.png

New Cuba Legislation Must Avoid Graveyard & Self-Inflicted Wounds; Seek Support From Four U.S. Senators

The Curse Of The Legislative Graveyard

Why Pursue Self-inflicted Wounds

Challenge To Avoid Cuba = Venezuela + Nicaragua

An Amendment’s Coming; Get In Front Of It

Senators Rubio, Menendez, Cruz & Scott

Home BancShares Mystery Is Achilles Heel

Exporters Need To Be Public

Financial Institutions Need To Be Public 

There is an eighteen-year-old legislative graveyard filled with headstones of initiatives that were “on the cusp” of success.   

But for one brief moment in eighteen years, those legislative initiatives whose fates have been preordained and with headstones engraved in advance absent the date of internment were focused one country: Republic of Cuba.   

Perhaps during the first quarter of 2019, the goal once again will be to change United States law from requiring payment-of-cash-in-advance for exports to the Republic of Cuba to authorizing, but not requiring, exporters to extend payment terms and for financial institutions to provide financing/loans for exports to the Republic of Cuba. 

The Honorable Rick Crawford (R- Arkansas 1st District) wants to avoid the fate of the cemetery.  He can, but he and his supporters need to move past believing that they always have a “pathway forward” and reject those supporters who belittle whom Representative Crawford and his colleagues in the United States Congress will need if the legislative journey is to be successful; including within the Trump Administration.   

Supporters also need to accept the reality of the legislative marketplace with respect to the Republic of Cuba- the country is itself a commodity and supporters and opponents will need to negotiate an acceptable price for legislation to become law.  

Supporters will also need to have at the ready a response to: The government of the Republic of Cuba may not be blamed for weather.  However, the government of the Republic of Cuba can be blamed for not investing (or permitting viable direct foreign investment) in infrastructure to lessen the impact of weather upon the country’s ability to produce agricultural commodities and food products.   

How does Representative Crawford respond to the question from a colleague: Why should the Republic of Cuba have access to payment terms and financing when rather than seek assistance from the Russian Federation to improve consumable infrastructure, it seeks a reported US$50 million to finance the purchase of vehicles for use by the military?  What predicts the government will repay its obligations as contracted when it focuses upon increasing the mobility of the military rather than increasing the mobility of farmers by importing US$50 million in tractors?  The government should be making a choice to lessen its focus upon the military.” 

And, the nearer (economically, commercially and politically) the Republic of Cuba is or is perceived to be to Venezuela, the easier will be a “pathway forward” for members of the United States Congress and for the Trump Administration to disengage from any legislative effort to change United States statutes.   

Separating the Republic of Cuba from Venezuela and from Nicaragua will become increasingly challenging for Members of the United States Congress while becoming less problematic for the Trump Administration to maintain that connectivity due to actions deemed non-democratic by the respective governments as reported by media. 

There is also the impact of the decision by the Trump Administration relating to the implementation of Title III of the 1996 Libertad Act (“Helms-Burton”).  With some restrictions, Title III permits lawsuits in United States Federal Courts against those who are using (“trafficking”) an asset in the Republic of Cuba upon which compensation was not paid to the owner.   

On 16 January 2019, for the first time, Title III of the Libertad Act was suspended for less than six (6) months- as every occupant of the Oval Office has done since the inception of the statute in 1996.  Using forty-five (45) days rather than one hundred and eight days (180) presents a likelihood of an ominous commercial, economic and political landscape for the Republic of Cuba, European Union (EU)-member countries, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and members of the United Nations.  Once again, the Trump Administration has used weaponized potentiality to create uncertainty and, thus anxiety.  Precisely the intention.    

“Secretary’s Determination of 45-Day Suspension under Title III of LIBERTAD Act- The Secretary of State reported on January 16, 2019, to the appropriate Congressional committees that, consistent with section 306(c)(2) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6021 - 6091) and the authority delegated to the Secretary by the President on January 31, 2013, the Secretary made a determination to suspend for forty-five days beyond February 1, 2019, the right to bring an action under Title III of the Act.  This extension will permit us to conduct a careful review of  the right to bring action under Title III in light of the national interests of the United States and efforts to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba and include factors such as the Cuban regime’s brutal oppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms and its indefensible support for increasingly authoritarian and corrupt regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.  We call upon the international community to strengthen efforts to hold the Cuban government accountable for 60 years of repression of its people.  We encourage any person doing business in Cuba to reconsider whether they are trafficking in confiscated property and abetting this dictatorship.”   

On 17 March 2019 or 18 March 2019, likely that a lawyer representing a client will be entering a Federal Court in Miami, Florida, Newark, New Jersey, and Tampa, Florida to file a lawsuit against someone- company or person. 

There may be an opening for a mediation to resolve the certified claims; the private sector has shared a proposal with the Trump Administration: https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2018/11/18/lojx6s6oe5epgonh6mub855d5ak143 

If Title III lawsuits are permitted, likely will be little legislative appetite to simultaneously promote legislation that will be deemed by detractors as beneficial to the government of the Republic of Cuba rather than pressure the government of the Republic of Cuba to resolve the certified claims. 

Lack Of Details From Exporters 

There is no lack of support for legislation from organizations.  However, some organizations (and their members) refuse to take positions with respect to specific components of legislation and regulations relating to the transaction process.  For example, providing payment terms, providing financing, and implementing Direct Correspondent Banking Agreements (DCBA).   

There is a lack of credibility when an organization supports legislation yet none of the members of the organization will support the legislation by specifically sharing how they would use the legislation if it became law. 

There is a lack of support by individual exporters- and having those exporters be specific as to how they would use the proposed legislation if that legislation became law. 

The lack of public support from specific exporting companies stating on-the-record (at hearings, in media releases, etc.) that they would today provide payment terms- and what those payment terms would be, to Republic of Cuba government-operated entities is harmful to any legislative effort.  

Will the exporter provide financing based upon the credit report provided by Republic of Cuba government-operated Empresa Cubana Importadora Alimentos (Alimport), under the auspice of the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Cuba (MINCEX)? 

Alimport has received up to two years to make payment for rice imported from Vietnam; and Alimport (and all Republic of Cuba government-operated entities) generally seek a minimum of 180-days with a preference for 360-days to make payment for imports.  

Important to note that in 1999 and 2000, United States exporters opposed including a provision within the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) that would authorize payment terms for agricultural commodity and food product exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.   

There were two reasons: First, United States exporters believed that if payment terms were authorized in the TSREEA, the first delay or default by any Republic of Cuba government-operated entity reported by the media would be disastrous for all exporters- and would likely result in an immediate halt of payment terms; and members of the United States Congress would have a choir of recrimination singing “I Told You So.”  Second, although the lack of payment terms might result in less revenues from exports to the Republic of Cuba, there would be no risk to United States exporters or to the Republic of Cuba; and the Republic of Cuba could be presented (and it has been for eighteen years) to naysayers as the “safest export market in the world for United States companies.”  Absent payment terms, the Republic of Cuba would be required to make purchases from the United States based upon quality of product and time of delivery for product along with whether such purchases would influence the political process in the United States.  

After eighteen (18) years of payment-of-cash-in-advance for purchases, the Republic of Cuba could make a legitimate argument that authorizing payment terms, even with limited “toe-in-the-water” transactions, would be reasonable. 

Philosophically, United States companies believe that their owners and managers should determine credit worthiness of a potential customer rather than the United States government.   

Lack Of Details From Financial Institutions 

There continues to be a lack of public support from financial institutions stating on-the-record (at hearings, in media releases, etc.) that they would today provide loans to Republic of Cuba government-operated entities based upon the credit profiles of those entities.   

Would today Greenwich Village, Colorado-based CoBank or New York, New York-based J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. provide financing to United States companies who seek to export agricultural commodities and food products to the Republic of Cuba?  Will CoBank or J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. provide financing based upon the financial statements provided by Republic of Cuba government-operated Empresa Cubana Importadora Alimentos (Alimport), under the auspice of the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Cuba (MINCEX)?  Will Alimport provide financial statements?  Will Republic of Cuba government-operated financial institutions provide financial statements? 

For perspective, review an article referencing a 14 September 2016 hearing before the Committee on Agriculture of the United States House of Representatives.  Significant to note that the individual quoted in an exchange with Representative Crawford is now Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) in The White House: 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/9/17/from-inside-us-trade-lawmaker-pledges-to-push-ahead-on-cuba-trade-bill-after-house-hearing?rq=cobank 

When New York, New York-based The Trump Organization transfers funds to the United States from one of the seven countries which host four of its hotels and seven of its golf clubs, The Trump Organization does not use a third country; it uses a straight line- a financial institution electronically transfers the funds from Canada, Dubai, Indonesia, Ireland or the United Kingdom to New York City.  The Trump Organization does not want to waste time or waste money.  The Trump Organization uses financial institutions with direct correspondent banking accounts.    

One United States-based financial institution has a partial DCBA with Republic of Cuba government-operated Banco Internacional de Comercia SA (BICSA), a member of Republic of Cuba government-operated Grupo Nuevo Banca SA, created by Corporate Charter No. 49 on 29 October 1993 and commenced operation on 3 January 1994. 

However, because BICSA does not have an account with the United States-based financial institution, a fully-operational direct correspondent relationship does not exist, and a multi-country triangular payment process continues- financial institutions in third countries have received fees on more than US$5.8 billion in transactions during the last eighteen years.  

In 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury authorized Pompano Beach, Florida-based Stonegate Bank (2017 assets approximately US$2.9 billion) to have an account with BICSA.  Stonegate Bank provides commercial operating accounts for the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, DC and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations in New York City; the financial institution also handles other types of OFAC-authorized transactions. 

In September 2017, Stonegate Bank was purchased by Conway, Arkansas-based Home BancShares (2018 assets approximately US$14 billion) through its Centennial Bank subsidiary.   

The Obama Administration did not authorize BICSA under a general OFAC license or reportedly in the OFAC license issued to Stonegate Bank for it to have an account with Stonegate Bank, so Stonegate Bank has processed some transactions through Panama City, Panama-based Multibank, which has dealings with the Republic of Cuba.   

One signature from Ms. Andrea Gacki, Director of the OFAC, can permit two-way direct correspondent transactions rather than the three-way transaction process that has existed for seventeen years.   

The augmentation of the OFAC license would be consistent with the export-focused mandates from the Trump Administration to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and United States Department of Commerce (USDOC). 

Previously, officials within the OFAC and United States Department of State shared that if a license application were submitted, the license application would likely be approved. 

That license would immediately benefit United States agricultural commodity and food product exporters from the first transaction- United States exporters will get paid more transparently, safer, faster and with less cost for each payment they receive from the Republic of Cuba.   

Ports in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia would also benefit by a more efficient transaction process and vessel departure schedule as United States exporters would have confirmation of payment delivery in a more consistent manner- paperwork delays would be fewer due to not having to await documentation from outside of the United States.  

To date, Home BancShares has refused to disclose the reason(s) it has not sought authorization from the OFAC for BICSA to have an account with Home BancShares- which is also an “Achilles heel” for any legislation in the United States Congress relating to changing TSREEA payment terms from cash-in-advance to authorizing payment terms and financing for agricultural commodity and food product transactions with the Republic of Cuba. 

If each financial institution had an account with the other, the implementation of direct correspondent banking services would be operable- meaning that third-country financial institutions would no longer receive a commission for each United States-Republic of Cuba transaction.  Direct correspondent banking saves money, saves time, is more transparent, and more safe.   

Ironically, the four (4) members of the House of Representatives and two (2) members of the United States Senate from Arkansas (exporter of poultry, rice, etc.) have not demonstrated an interest in public engagement with Home BancShares to implement DCBA.       

Amendment Is Coming; Accept It Early  

Any proposed legislation to authorize payment terms and financing for exports of agricultural commodities and food products from the United States to the Republic of Cuba should include a prohibition provision relating to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba (FAR) because The Honorable Marco Rubio (R- Florida), The Honorable Robert Menendez (D- New Jersey) and The Honorable Ted Cruz (R- Texas), each of Cuban descent, along with The Honorable Rick Scott (R- Florida) will seek to add, and succeed in adding an amendment to any legislation. 

If advocates believe that they can “roll” these four members of the United States Senate, they are delusional.  The most effective strategy is to negotiate early rather than risk an amendment, secondary amendment or “killer amendment.” 

The Republic of Cuba-related provision within the recently-enacted Farm Bill became law, somewhat ironically, because of one (1) United States Senator representing the State of Florida- who initially opposed the provision, but supported the provision when language was added which prohibited the use of United States taxpayer funds with entities in the Republic of Cuba controlled by the military.  The United States business community did not oppose that prohibition. 

The Farm Bill includes a provision authorizing the use in the Republic of Cuba of funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD).  

The provision in the Farm Bill was co-authored by two members of the United States Senate: The Honorable Heidi Heitkamp (D- ND), who lost her 2018 re-election, and Senator Rubio.  

Senator Heitkamp agreed to include language submitted by Senator Rubio that would prohibit MAP and FMD funding to be used with Republic of Cuba entities that are controlled by the FAR, consistent with policies of the Trump Administration.   

The specific language: “(d) Cuba. — Notwithstanding section 908 of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 ( 22 U.S.C. 7207 ) or any other provision of law, funds made available under this section may be used to carry out the programs authorized under sections 222 and 223 in Cuba. Funds may not be used as described in the previous sentence in contravention with directives set forth under the National Security Presidential Memorandum entitled ‘Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba’ issued by the President on June 16, 2017, during the period in which that memorandum is in effect. 

Current Statistics 

United States agricultural commodity and food product exports to the Republic of Cuba continue to decline; 16.1% thus far in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017- and have done so when commodity inventories have been high, commodity prices have been low and there would have been political value in purchases during a time of pain for United States farmers.  Healthcare product exports have also declined; 44.1% thus far in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. 

Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSREEA) exports (agricultural commodities and food products) since first use by the Republic of Cuba in December 2001 are US$5,849,925,838.00 through October 2018 (data for November 2018 delayed due to the inability of the United States government to publish export data): Clinton Administration: US$0.00. Bush Administration: US$2,697,501,426.00. Obama Administration: US$2,700,145,225.00. Trump Administration: US$452,279,187.00.  TSREEA requires that payments be made on a cash-in-advance basis; no other payment terms are permitted. 

LINK To Complete Analysis (including reference article) In PDF Format

Article For Reference 

https://www.cubatrade.org/blog/2016/9/17/from-inside-us-trade-lawmaker-pledges-to-push-ahead-on-cuba-trade-bill-after-house-hearing?rq=cobank 

Inside US Trade

Arlington, VA

14 September 2016

Lawmaker Pledges To Push Ahead On Cuba Trade Bill After House Hearing 

A Republican lawmaker from Arkansas will continue to push forward on his bill allowing private companies to extend credit to Cuba to purchase U.S. agricultural products following a Sept. 14 House Agriculture Committee hearing on trade with that country. 

Rep. Rick Crawford indicated during the hearing on trade with Cuba that he is willing to meet with opponents to discuss changes to a bill allowing the issuing of private credit to Cuba to purchase agricultural products from the United States. A staffer in Crawford's office said he's hopeful there's enough support to move the bill during a potential lame-duck session later this year, but added the congressman will offer the bill again next year if it fails to get a vote this year. 

The hearing comes after Crawford was promised a path forward for his bill in exchange for not proposing it as an amendment to a House financial services appropriations bill in July. That promise included a committee markup for the stand-alone bill. 

Members raised several issues with Crawford's bill, H.R. 3687, including that private money from the U.S. will go to the Castro brothers or the Cuban military; that U.S. agricultural products will be traded through ports and property seized from American companies by the Cuban government; and that the U.S. will not see enough economic concessions in return for easing the embargo. 

Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-MN) both said they support the legislation. A handful of other members, both Republicans and Democrats, either specifically said they back Crawford's bill, or want their states' agricultural industries to have improved access to Cuba. 

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was one of the most vocal opponents to the legislation on the committee, saying the bill does not create new demand for U.S. products, and instead the U.S. would supplant imports from another market. Critics also said the bill only shifts existing U.S. exports from one market to another. 

Crawford indicated he is willing to work with opponents of his bill to try strike a compromise on the language. 

During an exchange with witness Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates, Crawford asked if the anti-Castro activist was willing to continue discussing the legislation outside the hearing. Claver-Carone said he would be open to such discussions and reiterated that he believes the bill needs stronger language ensuring private credit does not end up in the hands of the Castro government, and is instead issued to private citizens and business. 

Such a policy would force Cuba to make significant economic changes, especially since all imports currently go through Alimport, a government-owned entity, and not through private companies. 

“With all the sincerity, would you be willing to continue the dialogue to bring this to the satisfaction to the folks in south Florida? If we can do that, we can move forward to reaching an agreement,” Crawford said. 

Claver-Carone cautioned the committee against voting for the bill in response to a drastic decrease in U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba since 2009. While several nations including China, Korea and Brazil allow the extension of credit that is backed by their respective governments, which gives their agricultural industries an advantage over the U.S., he added Cuba has a history of trying to influence foreign lawmakers through spending and changing its import practices to target specific congressional districts or industries. He added Cuba also has a history of failing to pay its bills on time. 

If the U.S. does scale back elements of its existing trade embargo, Claver-Carone said, it needs to see concrete changes in Cuban policies, such as lifting a current prohibition on U.S. companies working directly with privately owned businesses. 

“The Castro regime does not allow that currently,” Claver-Carone said. “We want to encourage that -- private ownership. If Congress sent that message to the regime, 'please allow your people to be independent entrepreneurs, have property rights and to trade freely with the United States'… if were going to export our principles, we should do it under the conditions and terms that are consistent with those principles.” 

A key question that was not answered during the hearing is whether private export companies or banks are willing to extend credit to Cuba. 

Witness Karen Lowe, senior vice president and agriculture export finance division head at CoBank ACB, a company that provides agriculture credit, said anyone issuing credit will want to know whether they are working with Alimport or another entity. U.S. companies will also want more access to financial and credit information, especially because any credit issued will not be backed by the U.S. government. 

That is a key difference between the U.S. and other governments, Lowe pointed out. Other governments have backed the credit their private industries extended to Cuba. 

“In the very short-term, the impact this bill has will be somewhat limited, but it does create a level playing field,” Lowe said. “More things need to happen -- particularly with the credit worthiness of the importing agency in Cuba.” 

John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a group that analyzes U.S.-Cuban policies, said nothing new came out of the hearing regarding U.S.-Cuban relations. Kavulich maintained his position that lawmakers are wasting their time focusing on Crawford's bill, especially since no legislation on Cuba has passed in nearly 16 years. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and key members of the Senate have also opposed easing the embargo. 

Instead, Kavulich said more pressure should be directed at the Obama administration to issue changes to the embargo as President Obama prepares to leave office in January, especially since Cuba will be a low priority under a new administration. 

It will also be easier for lawmakers to wait until 2018, when Raul Castro is expected to step down from power, in order to build support for any Cuba-centric legislation. Current law limits what can be done under the embargo as long as the Castros remain in power. 

“For many members of Congress, there are only two people that live on that 800-mile-long archipelago, and they're both named Castro,” Kavulich said, referring to brothers Raul and Fidel Castro, who have run the one-party communist state for decades. “That makes it easier for some members of Congress who are just vehemently opposed to what the Castros stand for, to help 11.3 million people whose names are not Castro.” -- Nate Robson

Trail-Sign-PKE-17007_300.gif