January 21, 2007 / 9:36 AM / 13 years ago

Norway, Cuba deplore U.S.-owned hotel ban

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway and Cuba on Friday deplored the decision of a U.S.-owned hotel in Oslo to deny lodging to a Cuban delegation in compliance with U.S. trade sanctions against Havana.

Norway’s main trade union LO threatened to boycott the Scandic hotel chain, owned by the U.S.-based Hilton Hotels Corp., if it did not reverse its policy.

The Scandic Edderkoppen hotel in Oslo refused to book rooms for a 14-member Cuban delegation planning to attend a travel fair in the Norwegian capital next week.

“These actions from Scandic managers are totally unacceptable,” deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen told Reuters by telephone.

“In Norway we are based on Norwegian law and Norwegian practices, not those of any other country,” he said.

Cuba accused Europe of bowing to American pressure.

“Helms-Burton rules in Europe,” the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma said in a front-page story that slammed the Norwegian hotel for what it said was kowtowing to Washington.

The 1996 Helms-Burton law, which codified trade and financial sanctions enforced since 1962 against Fidel Castro’s communist government, bans U.S. companies and subsidiaries from doing business with Cuba.

Johansen said the Norwegian government would have to take up the issue with Washington.

The LO union, which is allied to Norway’s center-left government, said it was “deeply shocked” by the hotel’s policy, saying it was a “clear breach of Norwegian law, which forbids discrimination based on nationality.”

“We find it to be a very serious matter that a Norwegian hotel chain maintains the United States’ boycott of Cuba,” the union said in a statement on its Web site.

Last year the U.S.-owned Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel in Mexico City expelled a delegation of 16 Cubans to comply with U.S. sanctions against Cuba.

The decision sparked protests in Mexico and led authorities to slap the hotel with a $112,000 fine. (Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle in Havana)

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