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Latin Builders question firm's Cuba ties

@PatriciaMazzei

Contractor Odebrecht USA has invited construction trade organizations to attend an information session Monday on a massive new project for Miami International Airport called Airport City. But don’t expect to see the Latin Builders Association there.

The LBA will skip the session because a subsidiary of Odebrecht’s Brazilian parent company is renovating the Cuban Port of Mariel. That connection has put the Coral Gables-based Odebrecht USA in political hot water. Several county commissioners have opposed giving the firm any more work.

“We must be steadfast in our resolve for our brothers in Cuba,” LBA President Bernie Navarro wrote in a letter. “We can’t allow Odebrecht to traffic with our suffering. Our position is not negotiable.”

Navarro, however, made sure to call Gilberto Neves, Odebrecht USA’s president, “a class act.” “His actions and respect for this community are not the same as those of his corporate parent,” he wrote.

Navarro’s letter was distributed by Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee in Washington that has vocally complained about Odebrecht’s ties to Cuba. A handful of Miami-Dade cities have approved legislation opposing Airport City.

“I don’t know what’s driving them,” Neves told The Miami Herald’s editorial board last week about the cities’ resolutions. “I hope that the benefits of [the project] outweigh that.”

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