UC Law SF International Law Review


Robert L. Muse


The Helms-Burton act is more than a vehicle for claimants of confiscated Cuban property; it seeks an international moratorium on investment in Cuba to force political change. This use of law to promote foreign policy objectives violates established principles of international law and is at odds with customary government policy.

Mr. Muse argues that the Act violates the nationality of claims principle by providing a right of action in federal courts to Cuban property claimants who were Cuban citizens at the time of confiscation. The vast majority of potential claimants under Title Ill were not U.S. citizens in 1959. Further, the U.S. government has always abided by the nationality of claims principle, and the author describes the cases of Italy and Czechoslovakia. The author concludes that Congress must amend the Act to remedy its violation of international law.