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Posted August 25, 2004 by publisher in US Embargo

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BY LESLEY CLARK | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Travelers to Cuba could lose a litany of state benefits including food stamps, Medicaid and affordable housing under a bill that seeks to crack down on those who visit the island.

Under the bill, anyone who has lived in Florida for less than five years and travels to any country deemed by the U.S. Department of State to sponsor terrorism would be ineligible for state services for at least a year.

That would mostly affect travelers to Cuba, said state Rep. David Rivera, a Miami Republican who is sponsoring the legislation. Though the travel is legal, Rivera argues that the money spent on the island only helps to prop up Fidel Castro.

‘‘It’s an issue of gratitude,’’ Rivera said today. “People are sick and tired of people living here, taking advantage of taxpayer generosity and then providing support to the Castro regime by traveling back to the island.’‘

The bill would be taken up next year during the legislative session in Tallahassee. Rivera was re-elected to his seat without opposition, allowing him to file bills early.

According to Rivera, the affected nations would include Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Sudan.

Those under 18 or over 65, disabled or pregnant would not be affected by the legislation.

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