Using Libertad Act, Amazon Sued For Selling Third-Party Charcoal Sourced In Cuba

“Amazon Hit with Lawsuit for Trafficking in Seized Cuban Property. Ecommerce giant profited from communist regime, according to suit, “ according To Media Release From Law Firm

“MIAMI, Sept. 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A U.S. citizen has sued under a newly revived provision of a U.S. law that permits legal action by U.S. citizens or entities against companies profiting from property that was confiscated by the Cuban government. 

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Miami, Florida by Daniel A. Gonzalez, comes several months after the U.S. lifted a 23-year-old suspension of a provision of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act. The provision allows certain U.S. nationals with claims to properties confiscated by the Cuban government to seek damages from companies trafficking in the property. 

Mr. Gonzalez, descendant of the original owner, holds title to 2,000 acres of land in the Oriente province of Cuba. The land is used to produce marabu charcoal for export to the U.S. According to the complaint, Amazon, benefited from and trafficked in the confiscated property by selling charcoal produced on the property on its website. Mr. Gonzalez stated that he only wishes his grandfather, Miguel Gonzalez Rodriguez, who originally purchased the land, could have seen the day when the suit was filed. He died in 1987—roughly 23 years after communist soldiers gave him and his family only seven days to leave the property with only their personal belongings. 

"It's ironic, in my opinion, that the initial seed capital for Amazon came from the generosity of a Cuban exile-- the founder's father. Now 25 years later, the company is profiting from property seized by the same communist regime from which [the founder's father] fled," added Mr. Gonzalez. 

The lawsuit includes FOGO Charcoal, a Miami-based company, also alleged to have benefited from and trafficked in Mr. Gonzalez' seized property. 

According to Santiago A. Cueto, a board-certified international law expert at Cueto Law Group, P.L., who is representing the plaintiff, the total damages sought for the case are substantial given the sheer size and value of the expropriated land. The lawsuit is the latest filed under the provisions of the Helms-Burton Act.  Other U.S. citizens filed lawsuits recently against, Carnival Corp. and American Airlines, alleging that the companies were doing business on seized Cuban property to which they have claims. 

Cueto Law Group, P.L. is an international business law firm based in Miami, Florida.  Contact: Santiago A. Cueto, 305-777-0377”

LINK To Court Filings (1:19-cv-23988-RNS)

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