Miami News

Florida cruise companies to pay millions in fines for using Cuban port

Four major cruise companies in Florida are being penalized for illegal activity

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom of the Southern District of Florida ordered on Friday that four Floridian cruise companies must pay over $400 million in penalties for using the Cuba port. In 1960, Fidel Castro illegally seized several piers in Havana's port, and the American corporation that held the concession is now owed reparations.

Read on to find out more about this decision and how it will affect cruise companies in Florida.

More on cruise companies ruling

District Judge Beth Bloom announced the historic ruling on Friday as a follow-up to her momentous decision from March 2022. The court found that Carnival, Norwegian, MSC SA, and Royal Caribbean were all complicit in trafficking.

The ruling refers to how these companies illegally transported American tourists to Cuba and used Havana Docks Corp., which is headquartered in the US but was originally controlled by Fidel Castro. The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission of the United States Department of Justice officially recognized Havana Docks' ownership claims in 1971.


How this ruling affects Florida cruise lines

This ruling will have far-reaching effects on the several airlines and cruise companies that operated in Cuba during the Obama regime. The government at the time allowed a certain number of tourists to visit.

The Trump administration later banned such trips in 2019. Additionally, Trump authorized American people to sue foreign parties for appropriating their property that had been confiscated by Cuban officials through a provision in the Helmes-Burton Act.

The Helms-Burton Act in effect

Title III of the Helms-Burton Act is a special clause in a federal law passed in 1996 that gives owners of property claims that the Cuban government had seized during the Cuban Revolution a private cause of action against any party that is "trafficking" (broadly defined to include a range of commercial activity and joint ventures) in that confiscated property.

Each US president has used their power to suspend the private right of action since the Act's adoption through 2019. But in 2019, the Trump administration first permitted the private right of action to proceed as part of broader attempts to censure the Cuban regime, and numerous cases have since been filed under the Act.

Since then, a variety of plaintiffs, including corporations and the ancestors of people who are the "rightful owners" of the confiscated property, have filed lawsuits against a variety of defendants, including both domestic and foreign businesses in the mining, tourism/hospitality, and tobacco industries with operations in Cuba. Additionally, claims have been made against purportedly autonomous corporations that the Cuban state controls, including two well-known

Havana Docks claimed that Cuba never paid them reparations for the land acquisition and eventually sued the four companies involved. Defendants of the cruise companies will appeal the decision.

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