Shipping companies receive billions in fines for stops in Havana

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A court in Florida has sentenced four American and international cruise lines to pay 109 million dollars each, equivalent to 1.1 billion Swedish kronor, for having docked in the port of the Cuban capital, Havana.

The port was previously owned by an American company but was nationalized in 1960 in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. A few years later, a law was passed in the United States, the Helms-Burton Act, which allowed American citizens whose assets were expropriated by Cuba to sue whoever benefited financially from the assets.

The law was meant to discourage foreign investors from doing business with Cuba, but this is the first time it has been used.

In the past, the US trade embargo was enough of a deterrent, but when former President Barack Obama eased the sanctions, the cruise ships set course for Havana.

Something that now turns out to have become costly. The court believes that the port fees paid by the cruise lines should have gone to the original owner.

“Based on the law’s primarily deterrent purpose and the offenses in question, a compensation of just over $100 million per defendant is clearly reasonable,” the court writes in its decision.