Must companies doing business with Cuba stay out of Florida?

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, as of this writing, must decide if he is going to sign into law a bill that prohibits foreign corporations that do business with Cuba from doing business in Florida.

 It is a poor law! Brazil, South Florida’s largest trading partner, says “no” to the proposed law. Canada says “no.” The Florida Chamber of Commerce says “no” to the proposed law. Florida would be losing the benefits derived from major international businesses that now are contributing to the growth of our state.

 The Canadian ambassador called the Florida Chamber of Commerce president and said that if the bill is passed into law many Canadian corporations that currently do business in Cuba and Florida will stop making investments in our state for fear that the proposed law will prohibit them from developing their investments.

The Brazilian Minister of Trade and Industry, Fernando Pimentel, talked about the bill last month with U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson telling him his government couldn’t do anything thing until the state [Florida] takes a position on the proposed law. Then they would decide how to act.

Interestingly, our governor traveled to Brazil earlier this year on a trade mission seeking to increase the currently blooming trade between Florida and Brazil. He seems to forget that Odebrecht USA, a subsidiary of Odebrecht in Brazil, the third largest construction company in the world that build major portions of Miami International Airport and currently are building the Metrorail extension to the airport no longer would be permitted to work in Florida.

 All this appears an effort to curry the support of South Florida voters who came from Cuba. Will it do anything to bring down the Castro regime?

Except for a baseball manager’s romance with Castro everyone I know in Florida — of Cuban heritage or not — wants to see Castro’s way of government gone and the island return to a democratic state. But banning a foreign corporation from doing business in Florida, if it happens to be doing business in Cuba, is no way to build a better Florida.

Wilson, the Florida Chamber of Commerce president, to quote the Miami Herald, said “companies should not do business with oppressive regimes in Cuba and Syria. But, having a state [Florida] instead of the federal government, setting foreign policy is unconstitutional. Florida has gone around the world and said ‘we want to be your trading partner.’ How do we tell the world we want the world here and then send an unconstitutional message to them that ‘oh, by the way, we’re going to start doing country-by-country rule making?’”

Just how far reaching such a law could go is almost impossible to project. As an example: City National Bank, here in Miami, is custodian for several Miami-Dade County bank accounts. The bank is owned by Cajas Madrid of Spain, which Cuba lists as one of the financial institutions operating in Cuba. Does this mean City National Bank no longer can do business in Florida? Doesn’t make sense, does it?

 The list must go into the thousands once you start researching what holding companies own a company operating in Florida and also own a subsidiary that does business in Cuba. It will make any company in the world think twice about doing business in Florida. Just how costly will that be?

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Please send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.

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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

1 Comment on "Must companies doing business with Cuba stay out of Florida?"

  1. We should encourage all kids of trade with the people of Cuba. For more than 50 years, our boycotting of Cuba has hurt noone except the people. It sure as hell didn't make Fidel suffer. Boycotting countries to punish their leaders has never worked. We need to allow American citizens to travel to Cuba. As for Florida not doing business with Cuba… it will accomplish nothing. Let Cubans buy American-made goods and we should be able to purchase some authentic Cuban items, as well. It will be a great thing for America and employment here. Let's try and create and alliance with Cuba… not maintain enemy status. I hope you all would agree.

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