Thursday, February 09, 2006

A rock and a hard place

Since their humiliation at the Bay of Pigs, the United States has maintained a crippling economic embargo against Cuba. US companies and their subsidiaries are barred from trading with Cuba, and the US government even claims the right to punish non-US companies engaging in such trade. This has not exactly made them popular with their neighbours.

As an example of the lunacy and pettiness of the embargo, the US-owned Maria Isabel Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City last week evicted a group of Cuban officials from their rooms on orders of the US Treasury Department. The international Sheraton Hotel chain had been warned that even renting a room to a Cuban government official contravened the embargo, and that they could face a substantial fine unless their guests were kicked out (strangely, no threats were made against the US oil company executives they were meeting with). However, the hotel now faces a substantial fine or even closure under a Mexican law which bars cooperation with extraterritorial sanctions regimes.

All I can say is that it sucks to be a US company...