Stars and Stripes: Congress considers ban on U.S. military contracts for companies doing business in Cuba
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — South Florida companies active in Cuba are worried about a measure in Congress that would ban them from U.S. Defense Department contracts if they keep up business with the island.
Anti-communist hard-liner Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, inserted that tiny provision into a massive defense spending bill that passed the House in May. The ban would apply to anyone doing business with countries that Washington deems state sponsors of terrorism, which includes Syria, Sudan and Iran.
A Senate version of the bill does not contain the provision, but Rivera said he’s talking with several senators to convince them to add it as “a question of national security.” It is unclear whether the measure could pass the Senate or survive a conference committee.
Businesses active in Cuba — foreign firms and U.S. companies licensed by U.S. Treasury to sell food and medicine or offer travel services — worry that if the measure becomes law, they’ll be forced to choose among their customers at a time of slow growth in the global economy.
Because many big companies do more business with theU.S. military than they do to Cuba, the measure could effectively end their budding sales to the Caribbean’s largest island nation — unless defense officials offer a waiver, according to lawyers and consultants specializing in Cuba business.
Those affected could include U.S. companies licensed to sell in Cuba such as food giants ADM, Cargill, Perdue and Tyson; U.S. shipper Crowley; plus foreign giants including Brazil’s construction leader Odebrecht. Crowley operates shipping routes to Cuba from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Odebrecht is building the $1 billion tunnel project at the Port of Miami.
Hard-liners in Florida recently pushed a similar law banning state and local contracts of $1 million or more to companies dealing with Cuba. But that law recently was blocked by a federal judge, who said U.S. foreign policy was the domain of the federal government, not the realm of a state………Read More
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