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Lawmakers support easing Cuba travel ban

Jan. 25, 2007 at 6:46 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Republican and Democratic lawmakers banded together Thursday to introduce legislation that would lift the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba.

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the bill.

"For nearly fifty years our current Cuba policy has done little to bring democracy to Cuba," said Flake in a statement. "A new approach is long overdue."

The legislation comes months after Cuban President Fidel Castro fell ill and passed authority for the communist island to his brother, Raul Castro, who has given some indication he would consider opening up the Cuban economy and perhaps other sectors in years to come.

"Far from hastening democratic reforms, our current policy has given Fidel Castro a convenient scapegoat for his own regime's failures," said Flake, an ardent critic of the U.S. policy on Cuba. "With the Cuban government taking new shape, we shouldn't give the new leader the same excuses we've given the old one."

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