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Gov Bush ready to sign bill barring professors students from Cuba travel

Gov. Bush ready to sign bill barring professors, students from Cuba travel

By Mark Hollis
Tallahassee Bureau

May 24, 2006

TALLAHASSEE · Gov. Jeb Bush indicated Tuesday he will sign a bill that
would forbid professors and students from visiting Cuba and other
nations accused of supporting terrorism.

Bush’s backing of the legislation, sponsored by state Rep. David Rivera,
a Miami Republican who represents a portion of Broward County, would
make Florida one of the most restrictive states for travel by scholars.

The bill bans faculty and students at public universities and community
colleges from using “state or non-state funds” to travel to any
country deemed a sponsor of terrorists. Five countries would be
considered off-limits: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

The bill does not specify penalties for violators.

The proposal, which easily cleared both chambers of the Florida
Legislature earlier this month, has been sharply criticized by academics
as an infringement on their rights that would impede important research,
especially in Cuba. These critics said it would impede advancement in a
wide variety of studies, including and public ..

Damian Fernandez, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida
International , warned that the proposal will undermine
efforts to recruit scholars who study in Florida and abroad. Wayne S.
Smith, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in
Washington, D.C., said the legislation would block potentially valuable
research for Florida, and that there is little political justification
for such a ban.

Bush downplayed the criticism, saying he thinks public and private money
should not “go to countries that are our enemies.” He also said he is
skeptical that much legitimate research is conducted during travel to
those countries.

Rivera has said the recent case of a Florida International University
professor being indicted on espionage charges involving travel to Cuba,
all supposedly paid for by private funds, demonstrates the importance of
the travel ban.

Mark Hollis can be reached at mhollis@sun-sentinel.com or 850-224-6214.

Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/sfl-fcuba24may24,0,5640940.story?coll=sfla-news-florida

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