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Carnival faces lawsuits over business dealings with Cuba

MIAMI – Carnival Cruise Line is facing its first lawsuits over its business dealings with Cuba from people who said the company is conducting business on their families' rightful property in Cuba.

"They just hoped my family would die and fade away. We won't," Mickael Behn said.

The lawsuits filed against Carnival demand compensation from the Miami-based cruise line that is operating at Cuban ports some said were confiscated from their families by Castro a half-century ago.

Behn's family owned docks in Havana and Javier Garcia-Bengochea's owned docks in Santiago de Cuba. 

"They were the first cruise line to traffic in our stolen properties so they deserve the ignominious distinction to be the first to be sued under the act," Javier Garcia-Bengochea said.  

The lawsuits are the first filed Thursday under a provision in the 1996 Helms-Burton Cuba Liberty Law inactivated until now largely because allies in Canada and the European Union do business on properties the Cuban government nationalized.

The lawsuits are about compensation -- property values possibly now in the tens of millions of dollars. 

Justice seems to go deeper for Behn. A photo shows his grandfather with revolutionaries with weapons and Coca-Colas taking his Havana Docks property. 

"For my grandfather, as a World War II veteran in the American Army -- an American patriot who lost everything -- the business that he built and the Cuba that he loved," Behn said.  

The Cuban government all but scoffed at the Helms-Burton lawsuits.

As for Carnival, which has the appropriate U.S. licenses to do Cuba cruises under U.S. law -- they continue on without commenting on the lawsuits. 

"Anybody who uses those properties face liability for using that stolen property," attorney Roberto Martinez said. 

Other lawsuits are likely to come in the future for other American cruise lines and companies doing business in Cuba. In fact, the Department of Justice has already processed and is holding nearly 6,000 claims from American citizens about property seized in Cuba.


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