By Angeles Vargas (Hosteltur)
HAVANA TIMES – Melia Hotels International has released a statement in which it announces that its executive vice-president and CEO, Gabriel Escarrer, has received a letter from the US State Department warning that he will be barred from the US in 45 days if he doesn’t accept a series of conditions that are linked to his activity with subsidiary companies in Cuba.
The threat comes after a waiver was lifted on Title IV of the “Liberty Act” (also known as the Helms-Burton Act), last year.
The company adds that “we believe that similar letters have been addressed to over fifty businesses with interests in Cuba.” These might include other Spanish companies such as Iberostar, NH Hotel Group, Barcelo Hotel Group or Be Live. Nevertheless, Barcelo, NH and Be Live have already confirmed to HOSTELTUR that they haven’t received a similar warning.
According to the statement, the “US government linked this notice to the activity that certain subsidiary companies have with Cuban government bodies in the management of two hotels located in the Holguin region, which they claim are built upon a plot of land that was expropriated from the Sanchez Hill family in the late 1950s. It’s worth remembering that the lawsuit filed in Spain by alleged representatives of this family were completely dismissed by our courts the first time it went to trial.”
The “conditions imposed by the US State Department are not compatible with the Company, plus abiding by them would go against the European provision (known as the Blockade Statute) which considers the Helms-Burton Act to violate the most basic principles of International Law.”
Abiding by this EU community law, the company explains that “the resolution of this problem has been placed in Spanish and especially European institutions, confiding in the fact that their dedication, diligence and close collaborative efforts will result in a satisfactory solution to this situation.”
The Melia Hotels statement ends by pointing out that “we repeat, of course, our respect and confidence in the involvement and efforts for a positive solution by Spanish and EU authorities, as well as in Courts. We insist once again on the loyalty, legality and responsibility which our subsidiary companies have always shown in their business management in Cuba, and we hope that the present controversy resulting from the activation of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act resolves itself in a favorable way for the interests of our Group.”