A US court orders cruise ships to pay 400 million for docking in Cuba

A US court orders cruise ships to pay 400 million for docking in Cuba

US federal judge Beth Bloom sentenced this Friday the cruise companies Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises to pay more than 400 million dollars for docking at the Havana Cruise Port Terminal –also known as as Terminal Sierra Maestra–, thus violating Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, of 1996 and activated by Donald Trump in 2019.

Havana Docks, the plaintiff company registered in the state of Delaware, from which Fidel Castro expropriated the port facilities in 1960, filed the case in US courts in 2019. Bloom herself determined, last marchthat the accused committed the crime of usufruct and violated the US restrictions against Cuba “intentionally and deliberately.”

The ruling, signed by Bloom, states that considering the damage caused to Havana Docks and the complicity shown by the companies, “the payment of just over 100 million dollars for each defendant is certainly reasonable.” In addition, Bloom pointed out, the payment of a lower figure would not be in accordance with the seriousness of the fault of the companies, which have the right to appeal the sentence.

The judicial process against these four companies sets a precedent for future legal cases related to the properties seized by Fidel Castro. It will also, Bloom hopes, serve as a warning to companies that continue to do illegal business with the Havana regime, which never compensated companies whose assets were confiscated in the 1960s.

Bloom herself determined, last March, that the accused committed the crime of usufruct and violated the US restrictions against Cuba “intentionally and deliberately.”

The Helms-Burton Act allows US citizens to sue for monetary compensation for the usufruct of properties expropriated from their families and that have been used especially by shipping and hotel companies from third countries.

Havana Docks alleges that with these activities that occurred between 2015 and 2019, the four companies obtained up to 1.1 billion dollars in revenue and paid 138 million to Cuban government entities.

The firms defended that their cruises to Cuba were framed within the guidelines established by the Treasury Department within the process of thaw with Cuba established by the Administration of President Barack Obama (2009-2017), but the magistrate rejected those arguments, according to the sentence.

He recalled that this was fixed in 12 categories and that those related to tourism were not contemplated, nor were those that could threaten the embargo against Cuba imposed by the US.

Around 40 lawsuits against companies, especially tourism companies, many of them hotel companies, have been filed in United States courts since Title III was activated in 2019. Trump activated the norm that has allowed these legal processes and that his predecessors, Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, never wanted due to the legal and commercial implications with third countries. Within the framework of a kind of thaw Promoted this year by the Joe Biden Administration, the condemnation of the four cruise companies demonstrates that the economic restrictions derived from the Helms-Burton Act are fully operational.


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