When it decided to start cruises to apartheid Cuba, Carnival Cruise had a choice. They could either abide by U.S. laws and protect its American passengers from discrimination or they could abide by the discriminatory laws of Cuba’s totalitarian dictatorship and they themselves become a tool of repression and apartheid. They chose the latter.
Carnival cruise to Cuba faces federal lawsuit
MIAMI — The first cruise ship scheduled to sail to Cuba from the United States is under fire and now faces a federal lawsuit, because people born on the island are forbidden from the voyage.
Two Cuban-Americans who were turned down when they tried to book a seat on a Fathom cruise set to visit Cuba filed the lawsuit late Tuesday, claiming the inability of a group of Americans to participate in a public activity violates the Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit targets Fathom’s parent company, Miami-based cruise giant Carnival Corp., and asks for the May 1 cruise to be stopped.
Robert Rodriguez, one of the lawyers who filed the complaint, said he was shocked when his clients explained they were told by a booking agent they couldn’t purchase the trip because they were born in Cuba. Rodriguez said Carnival has long been one of the most influential companies in South Florida, the heart of the Cuban community in the U.S., and its willingness to bar Cuban-Americans for the sake of sailing to Cuba disappointed him.
“The more I started researching this, the more I became upset,” said Rodriguez, the son of Cuban immigrants. “I was surprised and let down.”
On Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez requested an official opinion to see whether Carnival would be violating county code by banning passengers based solely on their national origin. Fathom and Carnival operate out of PortMiami, which is in Miami-Dade County, and Gimenez asked if the restrictions on Cuban-Americans would represent a breach of contract or warrant penalties.
“As a Cuban-born, naturalized American citizen myself, it is clear to me that this policy violates the code,” Gimenez wrote in a memo.
Carnival says it was forced into the decision by the Cuban government, which prohibits people born in Cuba to return to the island by sea, but not by air.
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