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Clinton OKs Stronger Sanctions

February 29, 1996| Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Clinton and congressional Republicans glossed over months of bickering Wednesday and agreed on legislation to tighten the economic screws on Cuba, moving quickly to punish Fidel Castro's government for shooting down two small airplanes over the weekend.

Concerned that any delay would dilute the impact of the sanctions and wary of being accused of coddling Castro, Clinton accepted measures that he has long opposed, guaranteeing early passage of the bill sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.).

The most controversial section of the bill authorizes Americans, including naturalized citizens who were Cubans, to sue in U.S. courts over property confiscated by the Castro government.

The measure would also allow lawsuits against foreign investors who trade in confiscated property, including those who buy interests in factories that were taken over by the Cuban government after Castro rose to power 37 years ago.

As recently as Monday, senior administration officials had described that section as "unacceptable," arguing that it would antagonize U.S. allies by interfering in foreign commerce.

In a rare compromise, the Republicans agreed to permit the president to delay implementation of the provision for up to six months if he determines that it is necessary for the national interest "and will expedite transition to democracy in Cuba."

The bill would also prohibit the issuance of visas to visit the United States to anyone who deals in property confiscated by the Cuban government.

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