Class action lawsuit filed against Cuban hotel shell companies

From our Bureau of Commendable Quixotic Gestures

European hotel chains that operate in Cuba are not the real owners of those properties.

The real owner is Castro, inc., which partners with them through shell companies run by Cuba’s military. These shell companies not only own the land and the buildings, but also a majority share in the enterprise. They also control all the labor and tax the Cuban employees who work there at a rate of 92 percent.

Suing these shell companies over stolen property is not exactly the same as suing the European firms who run the hotels. The chances of collecting from Castro, Inc. are poor, at best. European companies such as Melia Hotels have all sorts of assets outside of Cuba that can be tapped. Castro, Inc. has no such easily reachable assets.

Suing Castro, Inc. might seem like a useless quixotic gesture, but it’s a noble gesture all the same, and highly commendable.

Fire away! Scare the hell out of Ali Baba and his Forty Thousand Thieves.

Loosely translated from Marti Noticias

A Miami law firm filed a class action lawsuit Monday against several hotel groups controlled by the Cuban government seeking compensation for nationalized Americans whose properties on the island were confiscated and then put into operation by the Spanish chain Meliá.

Among the entities sued by the legal firm Rivero Mestre are the Gran Caribe Hotel Group, the Cubanacán S.A. Trade and Tourism Corporation, the Gaviota S.A. Tourism Group, and the Cimex S.A. Corporation, among others, the lawyers said in a press release.

The lawsuit is filed under the auspices of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens to sue foreign entities that have trafficked their property confiscated by the Cuban regime.

“The Law also entitles a claimant who has suffered substantial losses against a defendant who has received advance notice of the claim,” the press release states.

Last April, descendants of landowner Rafael Lucas Sánchez Hill also announced lawsuits in the US courts against the Spanish chain Melia Hotels International for the exploitation of the hotels Sol Río de Luna and Mares and Paradisus Río de Oro, built on a land of 40 thousand hectares in Holguin that was confiscated from the family.

After the enactment of Title III of Helms-Burton, on May 2, Meliá assured that the measure did not imply “any substantial alteration” of its activity in Cuba and that it “operates legitimately” on the island.

In a recent official trip, the Minister of Tourism of Spain, Reyes Maroto, announced the creation in Havana of a working group to “trace accompanying measures and anticipate what may be years of litigation.”

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