U.S. Inspectors Approve Cuban Oil Rig 70 Miles Off Florida Coast, Ros-Lehtinen Slams Obama

When it comes to Cuba, President Obama can do little right in the eyes of exilio politicians. When he eased travel restrictions to the island, for example, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen accused him of undermining democracy on the island. Now she's slamming Obama for his decision to order U.S. inspectors to check a deep-water oil rig that is on its way to Cuba.

While Obama may have helped avoid another Deepwater Horizon spill just 70 miles from the Florida Keys, he has incurred The Lehtinator's colada-fueled wrath.

"A state sponsor of terrorism [is] poised to achieve a tremendous economic boon by entering the oil business and endangering U.S. waters to boot," she said. "It is deeply disappointing that the Obama administration appears content to just watch that happen."

The new rig, called Scarabeo-9, is a collaboration between Spanish oil company Repsol YPF and the Cuban government.

The communist-controlled island is estimated to have vast undersea oil reserves, and Repsol plans to drill as deep as 6,000 feet under the ocean's surface -- roughly the same depth as the Deepwater Horizon well -- to find it.

Cuba, however, doesn't have the resources to respond to a spill. Other countries like Canada and Norway have offered assistance, but would take hours if not days to arrive -- enough time to soak South Beach in petroleum.

So Obama ordered U.S. inspectors to scrutinize Scarabeo-9 on Monday off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago.

But back in November, Ros-Lehtinen warned that any such assistance would break be breaking the law.

U.S. "assistance, guidance and technical advice" to Repsol would provide the Cuban government "with a financial windfall," Ros-Lehtinen said in a Nov. 1 letter to the president.

In other Cuba news, Iranian leader Mahmoud Admadinejad is visiting the island today. He met with newly re-elected Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega as well as Hugo Chavez yesterday in Managua.

"They say we're making (a) bomb," Ahmadinejad said. "Fortunately, the majority of Latin American countries are alert. Everyone knows that those words ... are a joke. It's something to laugh at."

Chavez, recently accused of receiving U.S. nuclear codes from a network of Venezuelan spies and Mexican hackers, also laughed off the claims.

"When we devils get together ... it's like they go crazy," he said.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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