Florida Appeals Ruling on Blockade of Embargo on Business Contracts with Cuba

Jul 25, 2012

The following article was published in The Sunshine State News on July 25, 2012:

Florida Appeals Ruling on Blockade of Embargo on Business Contracts With Cuba

By Jim Turner


Florida will push forward in its attempt to punish companies that do business with Castro’s Cuba and Assad’s Syria.

The Florida Department of Transportation on Tuesday filed an appeal of a ruling by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore that granted an injunction against Florida’s new anti-Cuba contract law. Coral Gables-based Odebrecht USA claims it violates federal law.

Odebrecht USA, an affiliate of the Brazilian company Odebrecht, claimed in court that only the federal government sets foreign policy.

Odebrecht USA won a highly publicized $57 million contract to strengthen cargo wharves in the Port of Miami last year. Meanwhile, another branch of the company performs work at Cuba’s Port of Mariel.

Gov. Rick Scott, who in May went to Miami to sign the law to prohibit state agencies from doing business with the two nations, supported the filing because Syria and Cuba are on the U.S. State Department list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” 

“As I have said before, the Castro and Assad governments are undeniably repressive, and it is important that Florida taxpayers do not support dictators that suppress freedom. I firmly believe this law is right for Florida and will continue to defend it going forward.”

Scott drew heat when he signed the law because he initially stated that it first would require federal approval. He later amended his comment to say the state would fight any legal challenge.

The legislation, which was set to become law July 1, prohibits Florida and governments in the Sunshine State from contracting or maintaining contracts of $1 million or more with companies that are also dealing with the governments of Cuba and Syria.

The bill was strongly sponsored by South Florida Republicans and only a single legislator — Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami — voted against the proposal.

View the original article here:  http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/florida-appeals-courts-blockade-embargo-business-contracts-cuba