As we suspected, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is working behind the scenes to derail efforts to amend the Death On The High Seas Act (DOHSA). Yesterday we obtained a copy of a letter (below) sent by CLIA to Congressional representatives in Florida. CLIA is trying to rally opposition against H.R. 5503 which will permit widows and children recover compensation for their grief and emotional suffering when they lose their spouse / parent. This is nothing new for CLIA, which has spent millions of dollars lobbying against reforms to this archaic law enacted back in 1920. As we have stated in many articles about DOHSA, a cruise ship is the only location where a child or retired, elderly passenger can be killed and considered worthless in the eyes of the law. CLIA says it has no objection to "addressing" (whatever that means) the issue of compensation for the widows and children of the oil workers killed in the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, yet it will not even commit to repealing DOHSA for these families. CLIA claims that it opposes amending DOHSA because it will provide a remedy to "foreign workers." The irony of such an outlandish and xenophobic comment is immediately obvious – all cruise lines are "foreign" entities, incorporated in "foreign" countries like Liberia (Royal Caribbean) or Panama (Carnival) for the singular purpose of avoiding U.S. taxes. These "foreign"' corporations then flag their cruise ships in "foreign" countries to escape U.S. labor laws and safety regulations. So why should the foreign flagged cruise industry be permitted to collect $35,000,000,000 ($ billion!) a year from U.S. taxpayers and avoid all U.S. taxes because of its "foreign" status, and then argue that families of dead "foreign" crew members should not be reasonably compensated when their loves ones die due to the negligence of the cruise lines? The cruise industry is built on the backs of hundred of thousands of "foreign" crew members, many of who work 360 hours a month for only $545. Their families are entitled to be compensated when their family members die due to the legal fault of the multi-billion dollar CLIA cruise lines? Take a look at this letter which CLIA hoped would never be published: CLIA fails to mention that the vast majority of people who die on cruise are Americans! As matters now stand, the lives of stay-at-home-parents, children, elderly and retired people, and gay men and women who die at sea with no dependents have no value under DOHSA. The International Cruise Victims (ICV) has been battling CLIA for years to amend DOHSA. But CLIA pays millions of dollars to lobby Congress each year, whereas the ICV is penniless and is comprised of only volunteers. Mother Jones addresses the disparity between CLIA and the ICV in an article "Love Boat Lobby Fights BP Victims." Below is a partial list of the loved ones of ICV members who were denied compensation because of DOHSA. This is just a small number of the hundreds of loved ones who die on cruise ships each year. Why should victims of the BP explosion and hundreds of U.S. citizens be denied compensation because of CLIA's heartless and mean-spirited decision to deny compensation to "foreign" crew members? Does CLIA tell the crew members their lives are of no value? Do the 16,000 travel agents who comprise CLIA know that its trade organization doesn't care about foreign crew members, U.S. children and retirees who die at sea on cruise? Travel agents – when you sell your client cruises, do you tell that if they die due to the negligence of the cruise lines, their lives are of no value? And do you tell them CLIA is lobbying Congress to make certain that the law stays that way? Disgusted by the cruise industry's heartless attitude? Do something about it. Support H.R. 5503. Call your Congressman or Congresswoman. Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.
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