Paypal and eBay Impose U.S. Blockade Against Cuba in Germany
2011.08.03 - 14:33:53 / radiorebelde.icrt.cu. Cuba-AlemaniaHAVANA, Cuba.- Online auction site eBay and its subsidiary PayPal are prohibiting German merchants from doing Cuba-related transactions, prompting accusations the company is violating European law, a local newspaper reported.
The German newspaper Die Welt slammed the move against German website owners selling Cuban cigars who have had their transactions blocked and their Paypal accounts closed. The daily labeled the actions as “grossly unlawful.”
PayPal recently demanded the German firm Rum & Co to take the cigars, rum and other products from the island out of its website.
The move apparently responds to the nearly 50-year U.S. blockade against Cuba, which prohibits American companies from doing business with the island. “But there are no such restrictions against European Union companies and, EBay, which is based in California, has allowed Cuba-related transactions by Europeans to go through in the past,” reads the German newspaper.
Thomas Altman, who sells Cuban cigars and spirits through his internet store, told Die Welt that “PayPal has closed his account despite his protests, making it impossible for him to sell his products.”
A PayPal spokesman confirmed the closure of Altman’s shop and several others to the newspaper, stating that the decision responds to the policies of its US parent company.
The daily notes that Paypal did not offer alternatives for merchants such as Silke Wolf who said she had lost up to 60 percent of her business through the company.
“This has now disappeared and we have no substitute,” she told Die Welt, speculating the move was actually calculated to protect American alcohol brands.
Aggrieved online retailers say they’re mulling their legal options and a class action lawsuit is one possibility.
International trade expert Lothar Harings, with the law firm Graf von Westphalen, thinks they’d likely be successful. He called eBay’s actions “grossly unlawful” in Germany.
Die Welt quoted Harings as saying: “eBay itself is violating EU law, mainly EU blocking regulations.”
The regulations, which explicitly allow Europeans to do business with Cuba, were formulated in response to US sanctions against Cuba.