Foreign Affairs chairman seeks to block Cuban oil development

Her bill, H.R. 2047, is called the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act, and Ros-Lehtinen pointed out that Cuban offshore oil exploration could occur in waters that are "dangerously close to the Florida Keys." But Ros-Lehtinen made it clear this week that the primary purpose of the bill is to ensure that the Castro regime cannot turn its offshore oil resources into a financial resource via outside investors.

"Desperate for new channels of funding, the Cuban tyranny will say and do anything to persuade others to invest in its oil sector in order to stay afloat," she said. "We cannot allow the Castro regime to become the oil tycoons of the Caribbean. I will continue to work with my congressional colleagues to prevent oil drilling by the Cuban regime, which poses a national security and environmental threat to the United States."

The bill would deny U.S. entry visas to any foreign officer, principal or controlling shareholder of a company that invests $1 million in Cuba's petroleum industry. This sanction would apply for any investments made on or after Jan. 10, 2005.

It would also direct the president to impose sanctions on people who invest in Cuba's petroleum sector, and make it illegal for any U.S. national to help Cuba develop its offshore oil resources.