Tuesday, February 14, 2006

American Hospitality

From the Economist:

The Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel was the centre of a diplomatic scuffle in February. It was the site of a three-day summit on “US-Cuba Energy”, which saw Cuban officials eagerly wooing American oil executives from Texas and Louisiana, in an effort to get American firms to extract Cuban oil resources. But the seduction was foiled in many ways on February 3rd, the second day of the summit, when the Sheraton kicked out the Cuban delegation under pressure from the American treasury. Because Sheraton is owned by an American firm, hosting the officials violated America’s 45-year-old trade embargo with Cuba.

The conference was promptly moved to a non-American hotel, but the affair has roiled anger in Cuba and Mexico alike. The Cuban government filed a complaint with the Mexican government; Luis Derbez, Mexico’s foreign minister, condemned the application of American laws in Mexico; and Mexico City officials are considering closing the Sheraton. Tension between Mexico and America has been running high already, owing to the matter of illegal immigration. America's Congress is considering building a fence along parts of the border, and some politicians claim that the Mexican army is infringing on American territory.


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