The blowout of a BP well off Louisiana last year killed 11 people, took 85 days to control and spilled 5 million barrels of oil that killed wildlife and blackened beaches along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Cuba’s first well, expected to be drilled this fall, will be in 5,600 feet of water, deeper than the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico.
But not much has been done as Florida lawmakers, and powerful Cuban-American leaders in particular, cling to their decades-old dream of toppling Cuba’s Communist government, said Washington attorney Robert Muse, a specialist in Cuban issues.
They have proposed bills aimed at killing Cuban oil development by discouraging oil companies from working there, and are resisting the notion that the U.S. needs to work with the island to assure adequate emergency response, he said.
“They want to keep the place in a state of economic misery and hope it will ignite once the Castro brothers are gone,” he said. “It’s that old dream of strangling the Cuban economy.”
The issue is a prickly one for U.S. President Barack Obama, with Florida looming crucial in his 2012 reelection campaign and many of the state’s lawmakers opposed to concessions to the Cuban government led by President Raul Castro.