Obama extends Cuban emergency order

Feb. 23, 2012 at 1:48 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama extended an emergency order Thursday that has been in effect since Cuba shot down two U.S.-registered small planes 16 years ago.

"The Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of excessive force against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba," the president said. "In addition, the unauthorized entry of any U.S.-registered vessel into Cuban territorial waters continues to be detrimental to the foreign policy of the United States."

The planes were operated by a Cuban-American group, Brothers to the Rescue, which used them to drop leaflets on Havana. The group said they did not enter Cuban airspace, dropping the leaflets at a time when the wind would carry them to land.

The two planes shot down by a Cuban fighter jet on Feb. 24, 1996, were both outside Cuban airspace at the time.

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