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    Support Cuba’s dissidents, commissioners

    Posted on Friday, 02.10.12
    The readers' forum

    Support Cuba's dissidents, commissioners

    Among Cubans and Cuban Americans, a number of foreign companies have
    earned a place in the "hall of infamy" for their outright complicity
    with the Castro dictatorship. These include Spain's Sol-Melia hotel
    chain and Canada's Sherritt mining company for profiting from long years
    of the Castros' apartheid brand of tourism and exploitation of Cuba's
    natural resources.

    However, Brazil's Odebrecht construction conglomerate is now placing
    itself in a reprehensible class of its own. Foreign companies that seek
    to do business in Cuba generally recognize they must choose either to
    profit from the monopoly of the Castro dictatorship or from Cuban
    Americans in Florida's free market.

    In the 1990s, Sol-Melia and Sherritt shamefully chose the Castro
    dictatorship, giving up opportunities in Florida. Odebrecht feels it is
    duly entitled to both.

    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff traveled to Cuba last week to promote
    the company's business arrangements with the Castros' dictatorship.
    These include enlarging the Port of Mariel, which Raúl Castro considers
    the single most important project to ensure the economic survival of his
    regime, and a new 10-year agreement to revitalize the island's moribund
    sugar industry. During her trip, Rousseff made a point of shunning Cuban
    dissidents and even refused opportunities to criticize the Castros'
    human-rights record.

    Meanwhile, a couple hundred miles to the north, for more than a decade
    Odebrecht has been seducing Miami-Dade County commissioners, taking in
    more than $4.8 billion in taxpayer dollars — much of it from
    Cuban-American victims of its business partners in Havana.

    The company has been awarded contracts on projects ranging from the
    seemingly interminable reconstruction of Miami International Airport, to
    building the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Art and a no-bid
    contract to build Florida International University's stadium — complete
    with an Odebrecht skybox.

    Its seduction has been so effective that Miami-Dade County commissioners
    jumped through legal hoops last year to give Odebrecht a $57 million
    contract to strengthen the cargo wharves of the Port of Miami.
    Commissioners sought to justify the contract by asserting Odebrecht was
    the lowest bidder. But it wasn't.

    The lowest bidder was actually a U.S. company — American Bridge Company.
    It didn't get the contract because of a "local preference" that favored
    Odebrecht despite the extra expense. How could that be?

    Only in Miami-Dade County can a Brazilian company be given preferential
    treatment (at extra cost to taxpayers) over a U.S. company. It was an
    award that fuels suspicion and feeds nasty stereotypes. This charade has
    gone on long enough.

    Rousseff, in support of Odebrecht, didn't hesitate to shun Cuban
    dissidents seeking political and economic reform. The time has come for
    Miami-Dade County commissioners — a majority are Cuban-American — to
    shun Odebrecht in support of those dissidents. As they do so they may
    find they're also helping U.S. companies.

    Mauricio Claver-Carone, director, U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, Washington, D.C.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/10/2635363/support-cubas-dissidents-commissioners.html#storylink=misearch

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