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Spending bill Cuba restrictions protested

Dec. 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- A Florida congresswoman is urging her colleagues to reject legislation that would tighten restrictions on charter flights between the United States and Cuba.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., recently wrote a letter to congressional conferees protesting the proposed clampdown, which is embedded in the massive year-end federal spending bill currently in Capitol Hill.

"We must not go back to the days when sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and grandsons and granddaughters were unable to visit sick or dying relatives in Cuba," Castor wrote.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and would return the regulatory regime to where it was under President George W. Bush. The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times said Americans would be allowed to take one trip to Cuba every three years for family reunions. It would also tighten up the definition of "family" and limit remittances to the island to $1,200 per year.

The newspaper said the politically charged issue has financial stakes for Florida charter companies who warn they could suffer a significant blow if the number of flights they can offer winds up being reduced.

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