Cigar Bar: Safe from Cuban Terrorism

Article excerpt

IN 2003 President George W. Bush ordered the Department of Homeland Security to tighten enforcement of the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Now the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the effort going into policing Cuban cigars might be reducing the security of the homeland.

A November GAO report finds that Miami International Airport personnel are so occupied by seizing "small amounts of Cuban tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical products" that they have little time left to look for "terrorists, criminals, and inadmissible aliens." While only 3 percent of non-Cuban international arrivals are subjected to secondary inspections at the airport, 20 percent of Cuban arrivals wait in line to be searched again. The eight daily flights from Cuba demand most Homeland Security resources at the airport, one of the busiest in the nation.

Yet the Bush administration keeps demanding tighter controls, worsening the strain on Miami's airport. In addition to the 2003 order requiring additional inspections, the administration broadened the scope of the embargo in 2004. Permitted family visits were slashed from once every 12 months to once every three years. …