Florida said to yield on state ban on Cuba-linked firms

Florida will not enforce a law passed by its legislature that would have prevented government offices in the state from doing business with companies that have ties to Cuba, the Miami Herald reported Friday.

The Herald said state officials have decided not to enforce the law after a federal appeals court last year ruled it unconstitutional.

The legislation would have forbidden government agencies from awarding contracts worth $1 million dollars or more to US companies whose foreign-owned parent firms or subsidiaries work in Cuba or Syria.

The measure was challenged in court by Odebrecht USA, a Florida-based subsidiary of a huge Brazilian construction company.

Odebrecht USA, according to the Herald, has business in neither country, but could have been targeted because an affiliate of its Brazilian parent firm is working on a major project to expand Cuba's port in Mariel.

A US District Court judge ruled in June 2012 that the legislation interfered with the federal government's authority to set foreign policy.

AFP was unable early Friday to reach officials at the Florida Department of Transportation, which had been taking the lead in enforcing the measure.

A lawyer representing Odebrecht told the Herald that while the Florida court injunction was directed at FDOT, it effectively applies to every government agency in the state.

"The federal government is going to continue to establish whatever it believes is the proper relationship with Cuba," said attorney Jim Moye.

"Our client will continue to comply with the laws in that regard. It's not for the state or local government to attempt to set the parameters for the relationshiop with Cuba," he said.