Miami-Dade Sides With Odebrecht (Again)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
On September 22nd, the Miami-Dade County Commission was formally asked to reconsider its $57 million contract with the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht for the dredging of the Port of Miami.

Weeks before, this contract had been conveniently tucked away within a large consent agreement that was passed by the County -- perhaps with the hope that no one would notice.

So much for transparency.

As we've previously posted, Odebrecht wants to have the best of both worlds.

While receiving billions in generous contracts from Miami-Dade County taxpayers (composed mainly of the victims of Cuba's dictatorship), Odebrecht is also partnering with the Castro regime (Cuba's repressors) to expand its Port of Mariel facility -- a project which Raul Castro himself has described as the most important for his regime's future.

Fortunately, not all of Miami-Dade County's Commissioners have checked-in their conscience at the door.

Commissioner Steve Bovo brought up the issue for reconsideration at the September 22nd meeting and asked to be recorded against contracting with Odebrecht.

Additionally, Commissioner Javier Souto delivered a passionate argument that this contract is not only morally reprehensible, but it's commercially illogical (he called it "hara-kiri"), as Miami-Dade is enabling Odebrecht to boost what will become a major competitive port facility in Mariel.

But that's where principle ends.

On the other side, Miami-Dade County Chairman Joe Martinez, who was particularly abrasive, argued that two wrongs make a right.

That's right -- Chairman Martinez argued that if American Airlines does business with Cuba, why shouldn't Odebrecht?

To answer the Chairman's question -- as a U.S. company, American Airlines and its subsidiaries are strictly prohibited from doing business or engaging in any commercial transaction with Cuba. U.S. law only permits federally licensed charter companies to engage in "humanitarian" flights to Cuba. These charter companies lease planes from American Airlines, but there are no transactions between American Airlines and the Cuban government regarding these flights.

And frankly -- even if it were the case -- two wrongs don't make a right.

Then, Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioners Rebecca Sosa and Pepe Diaz argued that they had to put passion aside for the sake of "fiscal responsibility."

That argument might actually resonate if Odebrecht had been the lowest bidder for the Port of Miami project. However, it was not.

The lowest bidder was actually a U.S. company -- properly named American Bridge Company. Unfortunately though, they were not awarded the Miami-Dade project due to a "local exception" that favored Odebrecht's more expensive bid.


That's right again -- only in Miami-Dade County can a Brazilian company be given preferential treatment (at a cost to taxpayers) over a U.S. company. Talk about feeding the worst of stereotypes.

However, all of the Commissioners that favored Odebrecht did agree on one thing: That the extent of their "patriotism" should be measured by the marches they attend, the proclamations they issue and their support for the Cuban Memorial Project -- not by their willingness to pressure Castro's repressive regime.

That's just insulting.

The only somewhat valid point during the reconsideration debate was made by the County Attorney, who reminded the Commissioners that the contract with Odebrecht had already been executed and that there may now be various costs associated with rescinding it.

In other words, that there would now be a dollar price to pay for Miami-Dade County's Commissioners unwillingness to stand on principle a month ago.

Fair enough.

However, Odebrecht will be back for more. They've already gotten over $2 billion worth of taxpayers money and they will surely want more.

So that excuse will no longer be valid.

At that time, a clear choice should be given to Odebrecht -- either Mariel or Miami.

If all of this sounds too surreal, please watch it for yourself here (beginning at the 52 minute mark).