Florida officials urge Trump to allow lawsuits to reclaim seized Cuban properties

January 22, 2019

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP lawmakers urged President Trump in a meeting Tuesday to move ahead with a proposal that would allow thousands of Cuban Americans to take legal action to reclaim property seized in Cuba.

Emerging from a meeting at the White House, Mr. DeSantis told reporters that it’s “time to put more pressure” on Cuba.

“Cuba is the cancer that leads to a lot of the problems that we see in Latin America,” the governor said. “The president listened to our arguments about doing [the legal action]. 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.”

Title III of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 allows people to sue over confiscated properties in Cuba, but U.S. administrations have suspended the measure. An estimated $9 billion worth of property could be subject to litigation.

Other Florida officials in the meeting included Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

A Cuban government minister warned the State Department Tuesday against taking that step. Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz said such an act could create legal problems all around the world.

“That would be a big mess not only for Cuba but for the U.S. and all the countries in the world who have business in Cuba,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Malmierca Diaz is Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment.

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