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Mexico: Government Announces Legal Position on US Helms-Burton Law

(May 22, 2019) On May 8, 2019, the Mexican government announced it is considering taking measures to address the possibility of lawsuits filed in the US against Mexican companies trafficking in property confiscated by the Cuban government. (Press Release, Department of Foreign Relations, Posicionamiento del Gobierno de México sobre la entrada en vigor del Título III de la Ley Helms-Burton [Position of Mexico’s Government on the Enforceability of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act] (May 8, 2019).)

The government explained that it was spurred to consider such measures by the US government’s announcement in April 2019 that Americans could file lawsuits in US courts under the Helms-Burton Act against entities and persons trafficking in property confiscated by the Cuban government. (Id.; see also Press Release, The White House, President Donald J. Trump Is Taking a Stand for Democracy and Human Rights in the Western Hemisphere – Fact Sheet (Apr. 17, 2019).)

Measures responding to the US law would be taken under the authority of Mexico’s Law on Protecting Commerce and Investment from Foreign Laws. (Ley que Protege el Comercio y la Inversión de Normas Extranjeras que Contravengan el Derecho Internacional [Law on Protecting Commerce and Investment from Foreign Laws], as amended through 2012, DIARIO OFICIAL DE LA FEDERACIÓN (official gazette), Oct. 23, 1996, Mexican House of Representatives website.) The measures contemplated under this Law include the following:

  • Mexico’s Departments of Foreign Relations and Commerce would be permitted to provide advice to sued entities.
  • Mexican courts could deny requests to enforce foreign judgments or arbitral awards rendered under the Helms-Burton Act.
  • Mexican individuals, companies, and agencies would be prohibited from providing information requested from foreign authorities under the Helms-Burton Act, and those who disregard this prohibition would be subject to fines. (Posicionamiento del Gobierno de México sobre la entrada en vigor del Título III de la Ley Helms-Burton, supra.)