Four cruise lines to pay nearly $450 million for using Cuba port

Four cruise lines have been sentenced by a US judge to pay a total of nearly $450 million for having used a Havana port nationalized by the Cuban government in 1960.    

The ruling by a federal judge in Florida requires the Carnival, MSC SA, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian lines to pay $109 million each, plus court costs, to Havana Docks, an American company that held the concession to use that facility.    

Havana Docks was deprived of its right to use the port following the Communist revolution on the Caribbean island.    

The court found that the defendants, all of which made port stops in Havana, had "derived significant amounts of revenue - in the hundreds of millions of dollars each - from their wrongful trafficking activities, and to plaintiff's detriment," Judge Beth Bloom wrote.    

The United States has imposed an economic embargo on the island since 1962.     

President Barack Obama eased its terms in 2016, allowing cruise lines to make stopovers in Cuba, but his successor, Republican Donald Trump, reversed that decision.     

The current ruling is based not on the embargo, however, but on a provision in a 1996 law, the Helms-Burton Act, that had remained inactive until now.    

At the time, the U.S. Congress wanted to discourage investment in Cuba by allowing any American whose assets had been expropriated by the Castro government to sue those who profited from its use.    

But successive American presidents had suspended application of the measure until Trump decided in 2019 to let it take effect.    

A flurry of legal actions followed, and the case involving the cruise lines -- all of which are registered in other countries but have important presences in Florida -- has been the first to...

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