Meliá CEO banned from US

Gabriel Escarrer
Gabriel Escarrer, Meliá Hotels International CEO

Gabriel Escarrer, Meliá Hotels International CEO, has been banned from entering the US due to the company’s operations in Cuba.

The company said that the matter was being dealt with by the Spanish authorities, and that it trusted that it would be “resolved in a manner favourable to the interests of our group”.

Meliá said that Escarrer had received a letter from the United States of America State Department, relating to the Helms Burton Act, which stated that: “in the event of not accepting a series of conditions related to the activities of subsidiary companies in the Republic of Cuba within a period of 45 days, he would be prohibited from entering the United States of America”.

The company said that it understood that similar letters had been sent to more than 50 companies with interests in Cuba.

The US government linked this notification to the cooperation of certain subsidiary companies with Cuban public entities in the management of two hotels in the Holguín region, in their opinion located on a plot of land expropriated from the Sanchez Hill family in the late 50s of last century.

Meliá said: “It should be remembered that the claims made in the Spanish courts by alleged representatives of the mentioned family were entirely dismissed.”

The group added that the conditions imposed by the US State Department “were not acceptable to the company. Furthermore, compliance with them would also have been contrary to European regulations which consider the Helms Burton Act a violation of the most elementary principles of international law”.

It added: “As one would expect, we reiterate our respect and confidence in the involvement and ability to find a positive solution of the Spanish and community authorities and courts, and also reiterate the good faith, legality and responsibility with which our subsidiaries have always carried out business in Cuba.”

Last year saw the Trump administration’s full implementation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which in allows owners of properties confiscated by the Castro Revolution to file suits in US courts to try and reclaim assets.

Meliá Hotels International, Barcelo, Iberostar and Accor were all subject to lawsuits, while Trivago, Expedia and Booking were accused of helping to promote the properties affected.

In January the Trump administration announced that it would suspend charter flights to all destinations in Cuba except the international airport in Havana.

“Today’s action will further restrict the Cuban regime’s ability to obtain revenue, which it uses to finance its ongoing repression of the Cuban people and its unconscionable support for dictator Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “In suspending public charter flights to these nine Cuban airports, the United States further impedes the Cuban regime from gaining access to hard currency from U.S. travellers.”