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Press Releases

Groundhog Day in Florida: Bill Targets Firms Doing Business with Cuba
Date: 3/14/2012
Written By: The Havana Note

Excerpt: Only in Florida can you have legislators so obsessed with another country that they routinely pass laws designed to punish said country even (and sometimes especially) when they harm that state's own interests. On March 9, the Florida legislature passed a law that would ban any of the state's public contracts to be awarded to companies that also do business with Cuba. The obvious target of the bill is Brazil's Odebrecht, which has done quite well in Miami over the past couple of decades, and which is also behind the transformation of Cuba's port at Mariel into a major Caribbean shipping hub (no doubt in preparation for the day when U.S. rules preventing U.S.-bound liners are again allowed to freely stop in Cuba). I'm not in a position to wade into whether Odebrecht should or shouldn't win public contracts, except to say it seems to me they should win or lose on the merits, not the politics. The National Foreign Trade Council's Dan O'Flaherty says the just-passed Florida law is unconstitutional – the constitution prohibits states legislating foreign policy matters in conflict with federal laws. O'Flaherty cites a Massachusetts law that would have enforced a similar restriction on companies dealing with Burma. That law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.