Melia Suffers a Reverse in a Spanish Court Over Its Hotels in Cuba

The Hotel Sol Rio y Luna Mares, in Playa Esmeralda, Holguin, is on land that belonged to the Sanchez Hill family before 1959.

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14ymedio, Havana, July 10, 2020 – The court of Palma (Baleares),which is in charge of the Sánchez Hill family case against the Melía group over the exploitation in Cuba of two hotels, has rejected three petitions from the company, according to Vozpópuli, which revealed on Friday the contents of the resolution approved on July 6.

Melía, which managed the hotels Paradisus Rio de Oro and Sol Rio y Luna Mares on lands expropriated in Holguín from the family after the 1959 Revolution, alleged that the demand is a covert attempt on the part of the heirs to evade the European rules and apply extraterritorial law in Spain. At the root of the adoption of the Helms-Burton Law in 1996, the European Union preventively created a cutoff statute that annulled the effect of foreign resolutions.

The court rejected this allegation upon considering that this supposed intent isn’t proved. The Sánchez Hills initiated the lawsuit in 2019 under the U.S. law, but the Spanish court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, so the family decided to invoke the crime of illicit enrichment, which can be investigated in Spain. Upon reopening the case for this presumed crime, the court believes that there is no proof of intent to use Helms-Burton.

Melía’s second petition raised a prejudicial question to the European Union Tribunal of Justice so that it would indicate how to proceed. This type of consult is done by European judges so that the cases raised are adjusted to the communitarian right when there is some doubt. The Palms court thinks it’s not necessary to appeal to Luxembourg and that the case can be resolved with the strict application of applicable Spanish law.

Finally, Melía asked that measures be adopted to maintain the confidentiality of the trial and requested the Sánchez Hill family to sign a non-disclosure agreement, since they think the documentation could be used for a future trial in the United States. The Court considers that there is no reason to adopt measures that are “restrictive and contrary to the principle of publicizing the proceedings in a democratic society”.

Melía told the Spanish newspaper that it is not surprised by the decision and is sure that the court will rule in its favor because “there are elements of facts and rights so the lawsuit will be dismissed in its entirety”.

The Spanish court can’t judge claims for goods confiscated in Cuba, but it can pass judgment on what is raised now as a personal claim of action for compensation from a company headquartered in Spain.

However, the hotel still will enter an appeal before this Saturday. If it does so and is rejected, proceedings could be initiated for the Sánchez Hill family to reclaim 10 million euros.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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