Hilton hotels lift European ban on Cubans
Friday March 2, 2007The Guardian
The Hilton group yesterday reversed its ban on Cuban delegations staying at its hotels in Europe, and called on Britain and the US to resolve the contentious issue, which arises from the American embargo on the Caribbean island.
The action came after unions and parliamentary groups in Europe announced plans to boycott the organisation after a Cuban trade delegation was banned from a Hilton hotel in Oslo and excluded from the group's hotels throughout Europe.
In a letter sent to the British prime minister and foreign secretary, and the US state department, the Hilton Hotel Corporation said: "As a US-based company, we face a legal dilemma, with a strict ban on trading with Cuba imposed by the US government, and contradictory legislation in the UK making it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of nationality."
Linda Bain, a spokeswoman for the Hilton group, said US sanctions, administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, prohibited American companies and their subsidiaries from engaging in any transaction with Cuba.
However, UK law forbade discrimination on the grounds of nationality, and the group could not ask their employees to disobey it.
The Hilton group has now called for a "US-UK bilateral agreement to reform and ease the trade sanctions within the tourism industry ... so that this contradiction between our laws is annulled".
MPs who had challenged the ban welcomed the decision. Colin Burgon, the Labour MP for Elmet, Leeds, said: "It is a real breakthrough for those who want to see fair play for Cuba."