Former Cuban political prisoners ask for investigation of Coral Gables firm

The Brazilian conglomerate that owns OdebrechtUSA is carrying out construction projects in Cuba worth more than $1 billion.

Former political prisoners of the Cuban regime asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether OdebrechtUSA, a Coral Gables branch of a Brazilian conglomerate, has violated U.S. laws by failing to register as an agent of a foreign country.

The company is active in several major construction projects around South Florida and its parent firm, Odebrecht Group, is building a $900 million expansion in the Cuban port of Mariel and about to start a $150 million remodeling of Cuba’s airports.

“Some of us political prisoners have been worried for some time because the work of this company in Cuba is helping the Cuban regime to remain in power,” said Angel de Fana, director of the Miami-based Unyielding Until Liberty and Democracy in Cuba.

The letter, signed by Antonio Castro of the Coral Gables law firm of Infante/Zumpano, says that Odebrecht “is a known proxy of the Brazilian government’s foreign policy agenda and the ties between the governments of Brazil and Cuba are widely known.”

It was sent to the Justice Department office that enforces the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, and dated Nov. 1. The law requires agents of foreign entities to register with the department.

OdebrechtUSA spokesperson Thais Reiss denied any wrongdoing in an email to el Nuevo Herald.

“Odebrecht vehemently rejects any allegation that it has violated United States law and is extremely proud of its record of performance and economic investment in the State and local communities where we operate,” the email said. “Our focus remains on the delivery of outstanding service to our clients and the continued growth of a sustainable business presence in the United States.”.

The letter to the Justice Department said the Brazilian government is financing the Mariel and airport projects in Cuba as a way of challenging U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba, and has classified all documents on the Cuba deals as “state secrets.”

OdebrechtUSA had been involved in the construction in Miami of the AmericanAirlines Arena, the North and South Terminals at Miami International Airport, the Adrienne Arsht Center, and the Metromover.

Read more Cuba stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category