Vive Le Canada

Cubans sent packing in Mexico
Date: Tuesday, February 07 2006
Topic: Eye on Uncle Sam


MEXICO CITY—There was no room at the inn for 16 Cuban travellers visiting the Mexican capital this past weekend.

In fact, there was room at the inn — the four-star, 20-storey Maria Isabel Sheraton Hotel on Mexico City's main boulevard — but not for the Cubans, all members of an official trade delegation led by the island's deputy minister for basic industry, Raul Perez de Prado.

Last Friday, on instructions from its owner — Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., of White Plains, N.Y. — the hotel summarily expelled its Cuban guests, reportedly withholding the balance of the three-day deposit they had paid for their stay.

"It's an extra-territorial application of a U.S. law, and so the Mexican government should sanction (the hotel chain)," said Homero Campa, a senior editor at the weekly newsmagazine Proceso, echoing a widely held view. "If the government doesn't act, the opposition parties will go to town."

Yesterday, a lone American businessman in the hotel's lobby bar disagreed with decision.

"They weren't doing anything wrong," said Pete Hicks, from Wilmington, N.C., who described himself as a committed Castro opponent. "That sounds pretty screwed up to me."

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