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No to the economic war against Cuba

On 15 March 2024, supporters of RATB protested outside the offices of London resident and DCD Rights’ Head of IT Mickael Behn against his $440m lawsuit targeting cruise ship companies previously involved in tourism to Cuba.


Text and photos: RATB


After lobbying US politicians, both Democrat and Republican, Behn convinced a US district court judge in Miami to recognise his claim to his grandfather’s shares in the so-called Havana Docks Company.

This Delaware based company held a lease to operate three docks in Havana before the Cuban Revolution; this lease expired in 2004. RATB calls on Mickael Behn to drop the claim; we say no economic war on Cuba!

What the suit alleges and why it’s wrong

After the Cuban people’s revolution, overthrowing US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, Havana’s port was among the properties taken under the control of their state in 1960, to be used in the interests of the Cuban people. Almost immediately, the US government expressed its determination to cripple newly independent Cuba into submission. It explicitly blocked any attempt for the Cuban state to negotiate compensation settlements with US companies, as they had done with former property holders from other countries.

The Behn family’s supposed financial loss is the fault of US imperialist greed; his campaign takes aim at the achievements of Cuba’s revolutionary people and targets their lives today. The lawsuit set its sight on four cruise companies, alleging that their use of the docks from 2016 to 2019 without paying out to Behn’s company has accrued hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid fees.

US judge Beth Bloom ruled that one of these companies had apparently ‘trafficked’ in expropriated property, ignoring that the 1934 licence explicitly states that the property in question would have defaulted back to Cuban state ownership 20 years ago, 12 years before the first cruise ships docked in Havana.

The entirety of this claim has relied on the collaboration of both political wings of the US ruling class in executing the criminal US blockade of Cuba. It is an ideologically motivated, economic attack on the socialist Caribbean island off its coast.

Behn’s case, and the 40 other cases being constructed by other US parties, arose after Title III of the Helms-Burton Act (1996) was activated by US President Trump in 2017. The 1996 law, signed by President Clinton and sponsored by two Republican politicians, had given US courts unprecedented extraterritorial reach to conduct lawfare against companies doing business with Cuba. This act provoked counter legislation from the European Union and Britain to protect their capitalist interests from US domestic courts. Despite such laws, banks and politicians in Britain have shown zero appetite in confronting flagrant economic warfare being pursued by the US. The Behn family’s personal interest came from their great-grandfather, founder of another notorious imperialist profiteer: International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT). Among the dodgy dealings of this multinational corporation were investments, facilitated by bribes to Heinrich Himmler, in Focke-Wulf; the plane manufacturer to the Third Reich.

Behn’s great-grandfather petitioned the US government to compensate him for losses in this Nazi venture, too, after the outbreak of the second world war. Later, Behn’s grandfather gifted a gold telephone to Cuban dictator Batista to gain his favour. After 1959 and the triumph of the Cuban people in their Revolution against the oppressive Batista regime the Behn family were among the capitalists, crooks, mafiosos, corrupt politicians and military collaborators who fled the island. Now, the bitter heir to a Nazi-tinged fortune wants to bring back cronyism and capitalist exploitation on the heels of US imperialism.

Cuban socialism vs imperialism

The potential damage by Behn’s case is particularly concerning. Tourism was always a significant industry for Cuba. As it recovers, like the rest of the world, from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis the reopening to tourists from around the world has been jeopardised by Behn’s unjust lawsuit. The intervention in the US court system by anti-Cuban agitators like Marco Rubio was no coincidence: the most reactionary forces inside the US are pushing for the state to turn tourism into yet another line of attack against Cuban sovereignty. The socialist state uses the proceeds from tourism – at least 50% of all hotels and resorts are controlled by the Cuban state – to support world-leading provision in health, housing and development, benefiting all Cubans. Behn’s lawsuit is the largest of its kind since the institution of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. It adds to threats against Cuba’s revolutionary people as they resist the worsening effects of the genocidal US blockade and global crisis. Join Rock Around the Blockade to show Behn economic warfare won’t be accepted – reject British and US imperialist attacks against socialist Cuba!

*RATB: Rock around the Blockade is a British campaign in defence of socialist Cuba.

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