Crime and Punishment
May 1, 2019
Last month a federal judge threatened to stop Carnival Corp. from docking its ships at US ports temporarily as punishment for possibly violating probation, according to the Anchorage Daily News (ADN).
Carnival has been on probation for the last two years as part of a $40 million settlement for illegally dumping oil into the ocean from its Princess Cruises ships for eight years and lying about the scheme to US authorities.
While on probation, ADN reports, Carnival and its subsidiary cruise lines have sought to shortcut court-ordered audits, falsified records, dumped plastic garbage into the ocean and illegally discharged gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
The company is also accused of trying to lobby the US Coast Guard through a back channel to change the terms of the settlement.
US District Judge Patricia Seitz will decide whether to revoke Carnival Corp.’s probation and punish the company at a hearing scheduled for this month. “If I could, I would give all the members of the executive committee a visit to the detention center for a couple of days’” Seitz said. “It’s amazing how that helps people come to focus on reality.”
If not a detention center, perhaps Carnival leadership can spend some time behind the “Cactus Curtain” in Cuba. The company inaugurated cruises to Cuba in 2016 after the Obama administration moved to warm ties with the communist island nation.
“For decades throughout the Cold War and beyond, visiting Cuba was impossible for nearly all Americans…more of a dream than a vacation,” says a Carnival promotion, which notes an abundance of ‘classic cars’. “Book a Carnival cruise to Havana and get ready to walk the streets, see the cars and meet the people on a vacation featuring authentic cultural exchange.”
Carnival’s leadership should make that trip sooner rather than later. At press time the Trump administration was planning to ice down the Cuban thaw a bit, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), by allowing US nationals to lodge claims against foreign companies that do business in Cuba.
Title III of the Helms-Burton act, passed in 1996, allowed US nationals whose property was seized by the Castro regime in Cuba after 1959 to sue for damages in the US court system. Under pressure from Canadian and European companies doing business with Cuba, President Clinton immediately granted a waiver to Title III, negating the right to sue for damages. The waiver has been renewed every six months since 1996.
The Trump administration’s repeal of that waiver will allow foreign companies to be sued if they do business in Cuba involving confiscated property, and the US Foreign Claims Settlement Commission has already certified 6,000 claims.
At press time, the waiver was set to expire on May 1st, at which point US citizens and companies will be allowed to sue in US courts for the use of confiscated property, valued at roughly $1.8 billion.
Whether cruise lines calling at Cuban ports have been profiting from confiscated property remains to be seen, but the lawsuits promise to be interesting to watch. Perhaps some of those classic cars will make their way back to the US.
Chris can be reached at email@example.com