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U.S. companies line up to do business in Cuba

U.S. companies line up to do business in Cuba

U.S. companies line up to do business in Cuba

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* English/Nat

The United States has defended its move to punish a Canadian company doing business in Cuba Thursday.

Saying the new Helms-Burton legislation is now the law of the land, the U-S State Department says it plans to carry it out faithfully while maximizing pressure on Castro and minimizing the effect on its allies.

The newly ratified legislation seeks to punish firms which invest in property in Cuba that was confiscated from Americans.

At a news conference with the Danish Foreign Minister, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the U-S is naturally concerned about the reaction to the Helms- Burton law among its allies.

However, he said, the legislation would be carried out faithfully.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“We’re anxious to minimize the effect on our allies while maximizing it on Castro, but we are carrying out what is the law of the land.”
SUPER CAPTION: Warren Christopher, US Secretary of State

The Clinton administration announced Wednesday that it was taking steps to enforce the new law aimed at punishing firms that invest in property confiscated from Americans by Cuba.

The U-S State Department notified a Canadian mining company, Sherritt International, that nine of its top executives and shareholders would be barred from the U-S.

State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns defended the implementation of the new law — describing some of the effects of the legislation thus far.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“We’re not guessing. We have reason to believe that that’s why the decisions were made. We also know that CEMEX, the Mexican cement company, has given up its investment in Cuba. We know that four European companies involved in financing the sugar industry have decided to opt out of that. These are limited given the total number of foreign companies involved, but it is positive to see because it is actually the intent of the Helms-Burton legislation to have this kind of effect – not on investment in Cuba, but on investment in stolen American property in Cuba.
SUPER CAPTION: Nicholas Burns, State Department Spokesman

The Canadian Prime Minister has authorized the preparation of retaliatory measures that would allow Canadians to sue any U-S company that uses the Helms-Burton law to attack their business in Cuba.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“I think the Canadian people ought to understand if they were in a situation where they had a 36-year battle against one of their neighbors – like we’ve had with Cuba – and where almost 6,000 Canadians who had investments in that country were denied compensation… how would the Canadians feel? Would the Canadians think it was right for Americans to invest in stolen Canadian property. I think that’s a side of the issue that maybe the Canadian public needs to hear and maybe it’s not being presented by the Canadian government.”
SUPER CAPTION: Nicholas Burns, State Department Spokesman

Meantime, in Toronto, opposition to the U-S policy is growing.

A coalition of church, labor and relief groups wants Canadian
tourists to boycott Florida.

The sunshine state is the number-one tourist spot for Canadians. They contribute about one-point-three (b) billion dollars to Florida’s economy.

Canada has led international opposition to the Helms-Burton law,
which is supported by members of Florida’s Cuban-American
community.

The Helms-Burton Law was enacted this year as a reaction to Cuba’s shooting in February of two civilian planes from the Miami-based exile group “Brothers to the Rescue”.

You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/youtube/3679f09a0019752a171d27f985a5e9f8
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork

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