US State Department under pressure to impose sanctions against Spanish hotel chain that is developing hotels in Cuba

US State Department under pressure to impose sanctions agains Spanish hote chain in Cuba| Norton Rose Fulbright

September 01, 1999 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

The sanctions would bar executives and their families of the hotel chain from entry into the United States. The pressure is coming from Republicans in Congress. This would be the first time such sanctions were used against a company from a European Union country. They have been invoked only three times before against companies from Canada, Mexico and Israel.

The Spanish company, Grupo Sol Melia, is alleged to be building hotels on property that was confiscated from the Sanchez family when Fidel Castro took power in 1959. The family became US citizens in the 1970’s.

The Helms-Burton Act gives US nationals with claims to property that was confiscated by the Castro government the right in theory to sue anyone trafficking in the property in the US courts. However, the Clinton administration has repeatedly suspended this right at six-month intervals—most recently on July 16. The Act also directs the State Department to deny entry visas to executives and controlling shareholders of companies that deal in such property after March 12, 1996.

Keith Martin