Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bill would punish investors who help Cuba drill for oil

By William E. Gibson
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

WASHINGTON - Sen. Mel Martinez introduced a bill on Wednesday that would punish foreign companies and investors who help Cuba drill for oil and natural gas near the shores of Key West.

Martinez, a Republican, and Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, are trying to fend off another bill also introduced on Wednesday that would allow oil rigs as close as 45 miles from the Florida coast and ease the U.S. embargo so that American companies can drill in Cuban waters.
To counter the drilling bill, Martinez introduced one of his own that would deny U.S. travel visas to any foreign person or company who supports Cuba's oil program. And it would impose unspecified penalties on anyone who invests more than $1 million to develop Cuban oil and gas resources.

"This bill sends a clear message that any attempt to develop Cuba's oil exploration program will be met with strong sanctions," Martinez said. "Supporting the Castro regime in the development of its petroleum is detrimental to U.S. policy and our national security."



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