The Miami Herald
Thu, Mar. 02, 2006

U.S. hotel allowed to stay open

MEXICO CITY - (AP) -- Mexico City officials on Wednesday dropped threats to immediately close the U.S.-owned hotel that had expelled Cuban guests -- a sharp reversal that sent a wave of relief over tourism and government officials who feared the shutdown would cost hundreds of jobs and hurt investment.

The announcement was made during a joint news conference with borough officials and representatives of the Sheraton María Isabel Hotel.

On Tuesday, Virginia Jaramillo, leader of the Mexico City borough where the hotel is located, announced that the 755-room hotel was in violation of city building codes and would have 24 hours to move its guests and close.

On Wednesday, Jaramillo told a news conference that ``all of the irregularities are practically corrected.''

The actions came after the hotel kicked out 16 Cuban officials attending a Feb. 2 meeting with U.S. oil executives, citing pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department, which said that housing the Cubans violated the long-standing U.S. embargo against the communist-ruled island.

Jaramillo said the hotel was targeted for the unusually fussy inspection because residents had complained of code violations, apparently because of anger over the expulsion of the Cubans.

On Wednesday, however, borough officials said the hotel had produced documents validating some of their methods of operation and would be able to correct other alleged violations shortly.

They said they had granted the hotel's request for 72 hours to comply, starting Tuesday afternoon.