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Miami federal judge blocks new Florida anti-Cuba law

A Miami federal judge on Monday blocked Florida from enforcing a new state law that prohibits governments from hiring companies with business ties to Cuba.

A temporary injunction, ordered by U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, prevents the law from taking effect on Sunday as scheduled. And it deals a blow to the politicians who backed the legislation, which was sponsored by Miami-Dade lawmakers, approved by a near-unanimous majority of the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

After an hour-long hearing late Monday, Moore ruled from the bench in favor of Odebrecht Construction, the Coral Gables-based subsidiary of a Brazilian engineering and construction giant.

“It’s not as if there isn’t some precedent there and there hasn’t been a run at this effort in the past,” the judge said, referring to previous failed legislative efforts to make it difficult to conduct business with Cuba.

Odebrecht USA sued the Florida Department of Transportation earlier this month over the new law, which would ban state and local government agencies from awarding future contracts worth at least $1 million to U.S. firms whose foreign-owned parent companies or affiliates conduct business in Cuba or Syria. A subsidiary of Odebrecht USA’s parent company is expanding the Cuban Port of Mariel. Full story here.