Cuban Embargo Meets Resistance

The U.S. plan to penalize foreign companies and executives doing business with Cuba has run into stormy weather, with allies denouncing the latest legislation as an attack on their sovereignty and a breach of international law. Canada has invoked NAFTA's dispute provisions, and threatens to let its businesses ignore U.S. court rulings. Mexico and the Organization of American States have also denounced the plan. Several countries may complain to the World Trade Organization, and even Britain has been highly critical.The Helms-Burton Act enables U.S. citizens who once owned nationalized property to sue those who use it, and authorizes refusal of U.S. admission for anyone who violates the law. If they don't divest, damage charges are heavy. To end the embargo, says the U.S., Cuba must release all political prisoners, set up a transitional government, hold multi-party elections, and say good-bye to Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.Cuban Vice-President Carlos Lage admits that the added pressure could slow foreign investment (plans for seventeen new hotels have already been shelved), but claims that "the economy is maintaining its rhythm of recovery." The current sugar crop is larger than last year's, and nickel production may set a record. The government, which has publicly distributed copies of the U.S. law, charges that it is aimed not just at Castro but also at future generations.

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