Business owners of confiscated property file lawsuit after Trump’s tightened policy with Cuba

MIAMI (WSVN) - A pair of Cuban-American business owners whose properties were confiscated have filed their first claims after Trump’s tightened policy with Cuba went into effect.

The two men said they had their properties confiscated by Fidel Castro’s regime in the 1960s, but Thursday morning was the first time they have been able to take legal action.

“Today, May 2, 2019, is a historic day,” said Civil Trial Lawyer Rodney Margol. “A right for U.S. nationals whose property was wrongfully confiscated to pursue claims against parties who trafficked on that confiscated property, and by trafficked, I mean made use of that property for profit.”

Dr. Javier Garcia-Bengochea and Mickael Behn filed their first lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Line. Their families own docks at the Port of Havana.

Garcia-Bengoche said, “[Carnival Cruise Line] was the first cruise line to traffic in our stolen properties, so they deserve the ignominious distinction of being the first to be sued under the act.”

Behn said his grandfather was held at gunpoint when his property was taken.

“They just hoped my family would die and fade away. We won’t, and we didn’t,” said Behn as he held back tears.

The claims the two men filed has been made possible after the Trump administration announced Title III of the Helms-Burton Act will go into effect permanently.

Under the act, Americans are able to seek compensation from foreign companies that are using their land in Cuba.

The provision was suspended in 1996 when the act was made law.

“Everybody has been on notice since 1996 that if they use stolen property, one day when the right of action was lifted, as it has been as of today, they could have to go to U.S. court and defend themselves,” said Lawyer and former U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida Roberto Martinez.

Lawyers also hinted that more cruise lines may possibly be taken to court as well.

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