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PayPal and eBay impose blockade against Cuba in Germany

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

The daily Die Welt recognizes PayPal and eBay’s actions against businessmen who sell Cuban products in the Internet in Germany are “grossly illegal”.

The journal criticized actions against the German owners of a web site that sells Cuban Havana cigars, who were victims of the blockage of their transactions and the closing of their PayPal accounts. PayPal extended the US sanctions against Cuba to German territory.

The European branch of PayPal, a company that facilitates electronic transactions in the Internet, demanded that German firm Rum & Co. remove Havana cigars, rum and other Cuban products from their web page

The pretext for such a decision has been the long standing US blockade against Cuba, which forbids US companies to do business with the Island. “But there is no such a restriction against European Union companies and eBay, whose main branch is in California, has in the past allowed Europeans to hold transactions with Cuba,” says the journal.

Thomas Altman, who sells Cuban cigars and rum through his Internet store, said to Die Welt that “PayPal has closed his account despite his protests, and consequently he cannot sell his products.”

A PayPal speaker confirmed to the German journal the closing of Altman’s store and the accounts of several businesspeople, arguing that PayPal acts in compliance with the policy of their main branch in the US.

No alternatives were offered for businesspeople like Silke Wol who said he had lost 60% of his business through PayPal.

“It’s gone and we have no replacement,” he said to Die Welt, speculating that in fact the measure was calculated to protect US rum marketing companies.

The aggravated businesspeople declared they are studying their legal options and are considering a collective lawsuit.

Lothar Harings, from law firm Graf von Westphalen law firm, who is an expert on international trade believes the legal case could be successful. He declared that eBay’s actions are “grossly illegal” in Germany.

“EBay is violating the community legislation, mainly of the EU, by imposing the blockade regulations extraterritorially,” added Harings.

The regulations that explicitly allow Europeans to do business with Cuba, were formulated as a countermeasure to the US sanctions against Cuba, concludes the journal.

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