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Report: Ikea may have used Cuban prison labor to build furniture

MIAMI — A report that Ikea employed Cuban prisoners to build tables and sofas in the 1980s has provoked a strong reaction among Cuban exiles in Miami, the Miami Herald reported.

A German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, had reported that in 1987 Cuban authorities negotiated for 45,000 tables and a number of sofas to be built for Ikea. The paper said it found the information while reviewing archives of the Cold War era, and that East German officials facilitated the deal with Cuba.

An Ikea spokesperson in the United States, Mona Liss, said the Swedish retailer started an investigation last fall looking into possible agreements with East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s to use prison labor to build furniture, the paper said. She emailed El Nuevo Herald, the Herald's Spanish language edition, to say the probe would now be widened.

"We take these allegations very seriously," she told the paper.

In Miami, former political prisoners told the Herald that Cuba's correctional system habitually uses forced labor, although none had any information about the alleged collaboration with Ikea.

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