U.S. hotel firm's land seized only recently

August 25, 2005

Miami Herald- Frances Robles

Four decades after Fidel Castro's government had apparently seized all foreign-owned properties in Cuba, it now turns out that a U.S. telephone company retained some 400 acres of land in and around Havana until just two years ago.

News of the surprising landholdings came after Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- owners of the Sheraton hotel chain -- filed a complaint last week with the U.S. Justice Department for $63 million worth of land it said the Cuban government seized in 2003 from a Starwood subsidiary.

'The land belongs to us. They can't take it,' said Ignacio Sánchez, a Washington lawyer who represents Starwood. ``The Cuban government basically said to go pound sand.'

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