Carnival Cruises Faces More Lawsuits over Cuba Trips

By Taylor Dolven (Miami Herald-dpa)

Father and son observing a cruiser anchored at the Port of Havana. File Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – A lawsuit seeking to punish Carnival Corporation for doing business in Cuba using assets that were expropriated by the Fidel Castro government will move forward, a federal judge in Miami has ruled.

Javier Garcia-Bengochea, the descendant of a Cuban business owner, is suing the Miami-based cruise corporation under a newly activated provision of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act – or LIBERTAD Act – that allows US nationals and naturalized Cubans to seek damages for property seized by Cuba’s government after the communist revolution in 1959.

Garcia-Bengochea has a certified claim to port buildings and piers in Santiago de Cuba where Carnival Corporation’s cruise ships have docked since Barack Obama eased relations with the Castro government in 2016.

Carnival Corporation asked US District Judge James Lawrence King to dismiss the case, arguing the company had sufficient permission from the US Treasury Department to do business in Cuba. In his ruling Monday, King said he was “not persuaded.”

Carnival Corporation said it will continue to fight the case.

“We believe that we operated within the approved government process regarding Cuba,” said Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival Corporation. “We look forward to proving the merits of our case.”

The company faces a similar lawsuit brought by Havana Docks Corporation, a US company that says it is the rightful owner of port property in Havana. Carnival Corporation’s motion to dismiss that case is still pending.

Both lawsuits were filed in May shortly after the Trump administration announced that it would fully enforce the Helms-Burton Act, opening the floodgates for lawsuits against dozens of US companies operating in Cuba.

The move was part of a broader attempt to dissuade Cuba from backing Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. In June, the Trump administration banned cruise ships from sailing from US ports to Cuba.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to be the first to announce lawsuits under the Helms-Burton act against Carnival,” Garcia-Bengochea told the Miami Herald in May. “They were the first cruise line to traffic in our stolen properties so they deserve the ignominious distinction of being the first to be sued under the act.”

Following King’s ruling, Garcia-Bengochea filed lawsuits on Tuesday against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Limited, Royal Caribbean International and Havana Docks Corporation filed lawsuits against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Limited, Royal Caribbean International, and MSC Cruises.

Claims by both Garcia-Bengochea and Havana Docks were certified by the US Department of Justice’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission in the early 1970s. Nearly 60 US companies are doing business in Cuba under authorizations issued by the US Treasury.

27 thoughts on “Carnival Cruises Faces More Lawsuits over Cuba Trips

  • September 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Interesting discussion gentlemen. I have to agree with Nick’s description of the Electoral College system being an anomaly – for it has in recent times, twice denied the winner of the popular vote, election. That may not make it into the top 100 US problems, but if not, it ought to.
    Bob Michaels’ is in my opinion correct about the US embargo having little effect upon limiting importation, but clearly the successive US administrations have failed to recognize that although doing little if anything to inhibit importations, it has provided the Castro regime with a most useful “whipping boy” used continuously by the regime as the causal factor for its incompetence.
    I agree with both of you regarding the evident mental instability of Donald J. Trump. It is unfortunate that professional standards of conduct prevent psychiatrists from publicly providing analysis. But maybe the UK is similarly suffering. (I obviously exclude Ireland Nick, but include Northern Ireland)

  • September 6, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Cueto as in the song huh ?
    You make some good points Bob. And no, I was not previously aware that your Cuban wife is strongly Revolucionaria…..
    I know a lot of Cubans who are like minded.
    I don’t recall meeting Cubans who are anti the people of the USA but I would say that the vast majority are against U.S. policy (and loath leaders such as GWB and this trump guy). Cubans are generally pretty smart. And as you say they will usually differentiate.
    Just checked out some of your excellent Cuban photos. You have a keen eye.

  • September 3, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Nick: I imagine Circles will let this topic fall off the radar screen as it is down to you and me talking about a diversion to the original topic. My e-mail is quite public [email protected]

    While the US Electoral College is antiquated, it does remain functional as everyone knows in advance that is the metric that determines the winner. If one prioritizes the US top 100 problems, it doesn’t make the list. Trump managed to win because his staff (he’s not that smart) directed him to go campaign in some key states that Clinton erroneously assumed were not critical. We must always recognize that while Trump’s base is small, it remains motivated to go vote. Similar to the old Miami hard liners.

    There sure is a contingent of US citizens who conclude that Trump is too mentally unstable to govern. I am one of them. However, we must be realistic and realize the congressional votes are just not there to do anything. Similar to the argument for impeachment for various reasons. Sad, but true.

    It is distressing to see your own government adopt and retain such a ridiculous policy of believing inflicting pain will cause foreign citizens to like you since that fails the most basic logic test as well as having almost a 60 year history of failure. But we must also acknowledge that yours and my interest in Cuba puts us in a very small group. Again, back to the imaginary list to top 100 problems, Cuba is just not on it.

    There is no point to the embargo other than inertia and the US having no good reason to give it up. No reason for it, no reason to not. I agree that there is a reason for the Cuban government to see it remain in place as the excuse for their economic problems. You are probably not aware that I am married to a Cubana who is a strong believer in the Revolucíon and live part time in a patriotic small Cuba town (Cueto, Holguin). Fortunately everyone there makes a total distinction between US people (I am the only one in town) and the US government.

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