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Odebrecht sues Florida for barring business with Cuba and Syria

The US subsidiary of Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht has filed a lawsuit against Florida for its recent law barring local governments from hiring companies that do business in Cuba and Syria.

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A gavel rests on top of a desk. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The US subsidiary of Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht has filed a lawsuit against Florida for its recent law barring local governments from hiring companies that do business in Cuba and Syria.

Filed on Monday in Miami federal court, the lawsuit said the new Florida law is "unconstitutional and unenforceable," according to Reuters. It also claimed that states do not have the authority to put laws into place that involve foreign affairs, and that these types of cases should be left up to the federal government.

"Odebrecht USA filed suit in United States Federal District Court against the Florida Department of Transportation, simply to defend our right to serve the State of Florida and its local governments," said the firm to EFE on Tuesday.

It went on to say that "Odebrecht USA does not engage, and never has engaged, in business operations in Cuba," but that its parent company, Odebrecht S.A., has "worldwide operations in more than 20 countries, including Cuba."

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Reuters reported that the law in question was signed by Governor Rick Scott last month and was backed strongly by Florida's Republican-led legislature. It gained most of its support from Cuban-American politicians in Miami, who said they didn't want Florida tax dollars going to support dictatorships.

Odebrecht's attorney Raoul Cantero, a former Florida Supreme Court justice, said that a federal court has already ruled against a similar law, according to UPI. The US Supreme Court also ruled against the 1996 Massachusetts Burma law, making it impossible for states to interfere in federal government matters involving foreign policy.

According to the Associated Press, Odebrecht has been involved in more than $3.9 billion in state and local government contracts since 1990. The new law it is opposing applies to projects worth $1 million or more.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/120605/odebrecht-sues-florida-barring-business-cuba-and-syria