Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Helms-Burton Act was codified in U.S.C. Title 22, sections 6021-6091. It is named for its original sponsors, Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, and Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana.
The law was passed on March 12, 1996 by the 104th United States Congress. The introduction of the bill was prompted by an episode that happened a month earlier. On February 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets shot down two private planes operated by a Cuban refugee group called Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate).  .
The Helms-Burton act was condemned by the Council of Europe, Canada, and other US allies that enjoy normal trade relations with Cuba. Politicians and business interests in these countries argued that the US law contains provisions that seek to punish non-US companies for engaging in trade with Cuba, provisions which run counter to the spirit of international law and sovereignty.
The law has also been condemned by humanitarian groups both inside and outside the US because, these groups argue, sanctions against an entire country will affect only the innocent population but not the leaders.
See also: the Godfrey-Milliken Bill, the Canadian rebuttal.
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