Online travel company Trivago has just been hit with a lawsuit by the rightful owners of a Cuban hotel. The hotel was stolen from them at gunpoint by the Castro dictatorship and they accuse Trivago of assisting the Cuban regime in trafficking their stolen property.
Miami-based law firm Rivero Mestre has filed suit against travel website Trivago, alleging the company benefited from property expropriated by the Cuban government after the Cuban revolution.
On May 2, President Donald Trump gave the green light for lawsuits to be lodged against companies using land confiscated by Cuba after 1959.
The plaintiffs, Marisela Mata and Bibiana Hernandez, are descendants of Antonio Mata y Alvarez, who built the San Carlos hotel in Cienfuegos in 1925 and left after the government led by Fidel Castro appropriated the hotel in 1962.
Because Trivago offers booking services to the San Carlos hotel, which is now operated by Spanish hotelier Meliá, the firm alleges that Trivago and its parent company Expedia have “benefited from the San Carlos.” Title III of the Helms-Burton Act defines trafficking as one who “sells, transfers, distributes, dispenses, brokers, manages or otherwise disposes of confiscated property.”
According to case filings, Trivago provides online bookings to 125 properties in Cuba. The company “facilitate[s] the booking of hotel rooms, airline seats, car rentals and destination services from … travel suppliers.”
When you chose to do business with a corrupt and murderous dictatorship and traffic in stolen property, you are taking a huge risk. Trivago obviously surmised the risk was acceptable, but they may not be thinking that any longer.
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