Club Med sued over property claimed by Cuban emigre

Campaign News | Friday, 9 July 2004

French firm named in civil action

MIAMI July 8 - A 95-year-old Cuban emigre has sued the French resort chain Club Med for building and operating a luxury hotel on Cuban beach property she claims was seized from her family by the Cuban revolutionary government.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Miami, claims Paris-based Club Mediterranee has made millions running the Club Med Varadero for six years before selling the property last year to Spanish hotel firm Grupo Pinero.

Lawyers said they would also sue Grupo Pinero over the same piece of property and planned legal action against the Sandals Caribbean resort chain and Spain's Iberostar over hotels on other land owned by the family.

The suit also alleges Club Med has violated the US Trading with the Enemy Act.

Elvira de la Vega Glen, of Miami, and her son Robert Glen, 60, of Plano, Texas, said Club Med built a 337-room, five-star resort on undeveloped beachfront owned by her family for decades until it was nationalised shortly after the 1959 revolution.

The lawsuit names as defendants Club Mediterranee, S.A., and Club Mediterranee Group, a subsidiary.

The company said it had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on the specific allegations. It said one of its foreign subsidiaries operated a Varadero resort until its management agreement ended more than a year ago.

"Club Mediterranee S.A. and its subsidiaries believe they have always acted in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations relating to this matter," the company said. "Club Mediterranee S.A. believes the claims ... are without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself."

The hotel was built in the 1990s during a surge in tourism construction at Varadero, about 80 miles east of Havana.

The lawsuit claims the French company "unjustly enriched" itself by using an illegally confiscated property to make money. The family's lawyer, Stuart Newberger, said the lawsuit had not made a specific claim for monetary damages but sought access to Club Med's books to find out exactly how much the company made on the property.

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