U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said today than any U.S. cooperation with the Cuban regime on its oil drilling scheme will only help move forward a process which will enrich the regime and endanger the environment. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Any cooperation with the Cuban regime's oil drilling ploy will be seen as the U.S. giving a green light to a scheme which will help the regime become the oil tycoons of the Caribbean, and potentially cause devastating pollution of our shores and waters in Florida. I am deeply disappointed that the Administration is playing a role in it, rather than working to stop it. U.S. participation will serve as an insurance policy to all the international oil conglomerates who will rest assured that the U.S. taxpayers will be left to pay for the clean up in the event of a spill.
"The Administration's apparent willingness to help move the drilling plans forward continues a troubling policy of engagement with Cuba. According to reports which surfaced last week, the Administration has been bartering with the regime over the release of wrongly imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross. Reportedly, cooperation with the regime on its drilling plans and the release of a Cuban spy implicated in the murder of innocent Americans have both been offered in return. Will the Administration draw a line anywhere?
"The recent death of Laura Pollan, the leader of Cuba's Ladies in White, should serve as a reminder of the struggles which ordinary Cubans face every day at the hand of the Castros. U.S. policy must focus on pressuring the regime and holding its agents accountable for their actions, not clearing out obstacles to their money-making schemes."
NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen introduced H.R. 2047, the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act, in May. This bill would amend the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 to deny U.S. visas to aliens contributing to Cuba's ability to develop petroleum resources off its coast. The bill would also impose export sanctions and other penalties on persons and entities investing in the development of Cuba's petroleum resources.