Posted on Thursday, 11.14.13
Former Cuban political prisoners ask for investigation of Coral Gables firm
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Former political prisoners of the Cuban regime asked the Department of
Justice to investigate whether OdebrechtUSA, a Coral Gables branch of a
Brazilian conglomerate, has violated U.S. laws by failing to register as
an agent of a foreign country.
The company is active in several major construction projects around
South Florida and its parent firm, Odebrecht Group, is building a $900
million expansion in the Cuban port of Mariel and about to start a $150
million remodeling of Cuba’s airports.
“Some of us political prisoners have been worried for some time because
the work of this company in Cuba is helping the Cuban regime to remain
in power,” said Angel de Fana, director of the Miami-based Unyielding
Until Liberty and Democracy in Cuba.
The letter, signed by Antonio Castro of the Coral Gables law firm of
Infante/Zumpano, says that Odebrecht “is a known proxy of the Brazilian
government’s foreign policy agenda and the ties between the governments
of Brazil and Cuba are widely known.”
It was sent to the Justice Department office that enforces the U.S.
Foreign Agents Registration Act, and dated Nov. 1. The law requires
agents of foreign entities to register with the department.
Odebrecht Group spokesperson Thais Reiss denied any wrongdoing in an
email to el Nuevo Herald from the conglomerate’s offices in Sao Paulo,
Brazil. “Odebrecht vehemently rejects any allegation that it has
violated United States law and is extremely proud of its record of
performance and economic investment in the State and local communities
where we operate,” the email said.
“Our focus remains on the delivery of outstanding service to our clients
and the continued growth of a sustainable business presence in the
United States,” it added.
The letter to the Justice Department said the Brazilian government is
financing the Mariel and airport projects in Cuba as a way of
challenging U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba, and has classified all
documents on the Cuba deals as “state secrets.”
OdebrechtUSA had been involved in the construction in Miami of the
AmericanAirlines Arena, the North and South Terminals at Miami
International Airport, the Adrienne Arsht Center, and the Metromover.
Source: “Former Cuban political prisoners ask for investigation of Coral
Gables firm – Cuba – MiamiHerald.com” –