Firm sues Florida over ties-to-Cuba law

June 5, 2012 at 1:33 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 5 (UPI) -- A major construction firm in Florida is suing the state over a law that forbids working with firms with business ties to Cuba, court papers say.

The Florida subsidiary of Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht is contesting a law signed last month by Gov. Rick Scott in a building known as the Freedom Tower in Miami, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Shortly after signing the bill, Scott said it was likely an unconstitutional law. He has since said the state would defend the law in court if need be.

Although the Florida subsidiary contends it has no ties with Cuba, a separate subsidiary of the parent company is doing work in the Cuban Port of Mariel, the newspaper said.

In papers filed in court, Odebrecht argues that it is unconstitutional for the state of Florida to engage in foreign affairs.

The company's attorney Raoul Cantero, a former Florida Supreme Court justice, pointed out that a federal court has already ruled against a state law requiring companies seeking contracts with the state sign a statement saying they have no business ties to Cuba.

The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled against the 1996 Massachusetts Burma Law, saying states could not interfere with the federal government in matters of foreign policy.

"We think the [Florida] statute is illegal on its face, regardless of anybody bidding on anything," Cantero said.

On the other side of the debate, state senator Rene Garcia, who sponsored the state law, said, "This is not about foreign policy."

"I see it as a states' rights issue. We have a right to decide who we want to do business with," Garcia said.

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