HAVANA – President Miguel Diaz-Canel met with the CEO of Canada-based resources company Sherritt International Corp., Cuba’s single largest foreign investor, Cuban officials said Wednesday.
The head of state received Sherritt boss David Pathe amid intensified pressure on the island’s economy from the United States.
Diaz-Canel and Pathe agreed on the “good progress of joint investments and in their rejection of the blockade (the US economic embargo) and the Helms-Burton Act,” Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuba’s minister of External Trade and Foreign Investment, said on Twitter.
President Donald Trump’s administration recently ended a waiver on Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a 1996 US law that strengthened the embargo against Cuba.
Title III allows American citizens to file civil lawsuits in US courts against persons or companies trafficking in property confiscated by the Cuban government following the 1959 revolution.
That provision had been waived by successive presidents, including Trump, for more than two decades. Suits under Title III were filed immediately after the waiver lapsed.
Cuba, whose 2018 export revenues fell short of official targets, has taken steps to prevent a recurrence of the economic woes that characterized the “special period” in the 1990s, when the island was hit hard by the loss of subsidies from the former Soviet Union.
The Communist government sees attracting foreign capital as crucial to bolstering the economy.
Sherritt has been active in Cuba for 20 years, with interests ranging from nickel and cobalt mining to exploration for oil and gas.
As is the case with all foreign firms, Sherritt’s operations in Cuba take the form of joint ventures with state-owned enterprises.
Despite Canada’s close alliance with the US, Ottawa has long enjoyed cordial relations with Havana.
The Canadian government responded to Washington’s latest moves on Cuba by vowing to neither recognize or enforce any judgments resulting from Helms-Burton Title III lawsuits.
“The Government of Canada will always defend Canadians and Canadian businesses conducting legitimate trade and investment with Cuba, and is reviewing all options in response to the U.S. decision,” the foreign ministry said last week in a statement.
The ministry also pointed to Canada’s Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act, and said that it could be used to file suits in Canadian courts that “will allow Canadians to recover any amounts that have been obtained against them, including legal expenses, and losses or damages incurred.”