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Latino Daily News

Saturday September 7, 2013

Florida Backs Off Bid to Bar Public Contracts for Firms With Cuba Ties

Florida Backs Off Bid to Bar Public Contracts for Firms With Cuba Ties

Photo: Odebrecht USA

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Florida authorities have decided not to enforce a law that bans the state and local governments from hiring companies that have business ties with Cuba, The Miami Herald reported.

The Florida Department of Transportation has opted not to appeal the June decision by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a district judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

The FDOT’s move clears the way for Odebrecht USA to pursue more public contracts in Florida, the daily said Thursday.

The Florida-based subsidiary of Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht, which has another unit working on the expansion of the Cuban port of Mariel, has obtained roughly $4 billion in public contracts in the state since 1999.

The law, which took effect last year, banned state and local government agencies from awarding contracts worth over $1 million to companies doing business with a score of countries, including Cuba.

“The federal government is going to continue to establish whatever it believes is the proper relationship with Cuba,” Jim Moye, an attorney for Odebrecht, said.

“Our client will continue to comply with the laws in that regard. It’s not for the state or local governments to attempt to set the parameters for the relationship with Cuba,” the lawyer said.

Odebrecht USA sued Florida in June 2012, arguing it was not the state’s role to set foreign policy.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore agreed with the plaintiffs, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott appealed to the 11th Circuit.