Florida man sues Amazon for profiting from Cuba land | News | DW | 27.09.2019
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Florida man sues Amazon for profiting from Cuba land

The tech behemoth Amazon has joined the list of international firms being sued for profiting from lands confiscated from Cubans after the revolution. The lawsuit was lodged in a Miami court by a US citizen.

The US citizen Daniel A. Gonzalez is taking tech giant Amazon to court for profiting from property nationalized after Cuba's 1959 revolution.

According to a lawsuit lodged Thursday, Amazon sold marabu charcoal extracted from a property in the eastern Granma province that had previously been owned by Gonzalez's grandfather Miguel Gonzalez Rodriguez, who died in 1987.

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"Amazon benefited from and trafficked in the confiscated property by selling charcoal produced on the property on its website," the Cueto Law Group alleged in a press release. "Mr. Gonzalez, descendant of the original owner, holds title to 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of land in the Oriente province in Cuba," according to the firm.

Gonzalez sued under Helms-Burton, a 1996 act that permits US citizens to sue firms that profit from nationalized land. The act had been suspended for the past 21 years under US presidents of both political parties before Donald Trump put it back into effect in May. Cuban officials have repeatedly said that Helms-Burton is an extraterritorial law and therefore does not apply within the country.

'Only seven days'

The lawsuit also accuses the Florida company Fogo Charcoal of commercializing the charcoal, produced from branches of marabu bushes and sought after for its relative easiness to light, smoke-free glow and pleasurable grill aroma. On Thursday, the Agence France-Presse reported that neither firm was currently offering the charcoal online. According to the suit, the offending operations occurred at the beginning of 2017.

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Gonzalez's attorney, Santiago A. Cueto, said his client sought financial compensation "potentially covering the total value of the land and the penalty for trafficking with this property." Cueto said the total damages could be substantial "given the size and value of the expropriated land."

On Wednesday, the carriers American Airlines and LATAM were sued by a descendant of the former owner of Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. The cruise ship carrier Carnival has also been sued, as have travel-booking companies such as Expedia and Trivago and the bank Societe General, but no cases have appeared in court as yet.

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Helms-Burton reinforced the US embargo of Cuba, which presidents of both political parties had upheld since 1962. Barack Obama began making efforts to normalize relations between the countries, which are separated by just over 100 miles (160 kilometers) of water, and eased several restrictions in 2015.

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mkg/rc (EFE, AFP)

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