Cuba business question on the ballot

Miami-Dade voters: Should companies with Cuba connections get county contracts?

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - Among the questions on the multi-page ballot this November, voters in Miami-Dade will be asked whether they favor banning county business with companies that do business in or with Cuba.

The non-binding, straw ballot question is essentially a poll. Such a ban is meant to starve the economic engines of Fidel Castro's half-century old revolution.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo sponsored the question and his colleagues voted to add it to the ballot.

"I thought it was a good idea just to pose the question to the voters, 'Is this an issue or not?' as we make policy decisions," said Bovo. "It also bleeds into an issue of survivability of the Cuban government and propping it up."

SPECIAL SECTION: 2012 Elections

Last May, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law banning million dollar state business with companies that do business with Cuba and Syria, both considered country's with state-sponsored terrorism. At the same time, Scott stipulated that the law is not enforceable without federal action.

Of the 200 companies that might be affected by such future action, Coral Gables-based Odebrecht USA is arguably the one with the most to lose.

Odebrecht has been awarded multi-million dollar county construction projects. Its parent company, based in Brazil, has other business entities that are renovating Cuba's Port of Mariel.

In response, Odebrecht has filed a lawsuit contesting the state law.

Even before the Governor signed the law, Miami-Dade's county attorney notified commissioners that the law is unenforceable.

A similar Miami-Dade County resolution was overturned a decade ago in federal court.

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