MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida’s new law making it illegal under most circumstances for companies to do business with Cuba and Syria is facing a challenge in federal court filed by a construction company with a huge stake in South Florida and a small stake in Cuba.
A federal judge in Miami has set a hearing June 25th and approved an expedited schedule for the challenge filed by Odebrecht Construction Inc. The Coral Gables-based company is a subsidiary of a Brazilian conglomerate that has a separate unit working to expand Cuba’s port of Mariel.
Odebrecht is heavily involved in the Miami International Airport project and has managed major construction projects in South Florida over the years.
The company is asking the judge to issue a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect as scheduled July 1. The company says it could be prevented from bidding on billions of dollars in government contracts.
The lawsuit claims the law is unconstitutional because foreign policy powers rest solely with the federal government.
The law was signed in Miami by Governor Rick Scott at the iconic Freedom Tower, watched by many South Florida Cuban exile leaders and politicians. However, Scott infuriated many of them by going on a Cuban radio program and admitting the law was virtually enforceable unless the US government made changes.
Scott seemed to indicate the state would not be taking action under the law until then, but after a firestorm of complaints he reversed his position and said the law would be enforced.