Eye on Cuba

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The U.S. government is flirting with a foreign policy migraine if it goes after Spanish hotel group Sol Melia for violations of the Helms-Burton Act.

The 1996 law is supposed to keep foreign companies from doing business in Cuba on property seized by the U.S. Sol Melia manages, but does not own, 12 hotels in Cuba. It has no U.S. properties.

So far, the State Department has confirmed only that an ongoing investigation exists. In the past, sanctions in similar matters have routinely been waived. But with Cuba heating up quickly as a potential tourism hotspot and U.S. interests slavering over the thought of re-slicing the Havana pie, attitudes may be changing.

One thing is certain: If President Clinton decides to punish Sol Melia, the U.S. will face the certain wrath of the Spanish government and the European Union. This one will be interesting.

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