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Florida's 'Cuba Bill' Could Negatively Impact State's Economy

Cuba. It's one of the world's most isolated countries, and lawmakers in Tallahassee want to keep it that way, offering choice words about what they call a repressive communist regime.

"That vile dictatorship of Cuba!"

Now, all the talk has been turned into a law... One that blocks international companies doing business with Cuba from being eligible for state contracts or investments.

It's aimed at weakening Cuba's economy, but Rafael Marte worries it'll hurt Florida's economy more.

He runs a convenience store specializing in Latin-American goods, many of them sold by international companies in Miami that just happen to have Cuban ties.

"If the parent company that is not located in Florida, they do business with Cuba, then these warehouses here are going to be penalized, and we are going to be penalized, too, because we will not be able to get what we are getting right now," Marte said.

It's not just food companies feeling the impact, but multi-national contractors critical to expanding Florida's ports and building highways.

That's why the powerful Florida Chamber of Commerce is criticizing the law in a statement, saying 'Florida creating its own foreign policy potentially sends a negative message to our major trading partners such as Brazil, Canada and Colombia. This bill is likely unconstitutional and may have unintended consequences."

Consequences the Cuban-American lawmakers behind it argue pale in comparison to what their parents and grandparents had to go through when Fidel Castro took power.

But Rafael wonders, "Are we penalizing the people? Are we penalizing the government? You tell me."

Governor Scott is taking heat for signing the bill into law, not just from people like Rafael, but Florida's Cuban exile community. The governor made it clear he doesn't think the trade crackdown can be enforced without the federal government passing its own law.

Nearly 240 companies the state invests in have Cuban business dealings.


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