WASHINGTON (CN) – Arguing that the Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the use of deadly force against U.S. vessels or aircraft engaged in memorial activities or peaceful protests North of Cuba, President Obama has extended for one year the state of emergency declared in March 1996 after Cuba shot down two unarmed U.S. aircraft in international airspace.
The national emergency, declared by former President Bill Clinton, placed strict restriction on the operation of U.S. flagged vessels or aircraft in the air and sea near Cuba and authorized the Coast Guard to seize control of any vessel that violated the operational restrictions.
The civilian aircraft the Cuban Air Force shot down were operated by the anti-Castro exile group Brothers to the Rescue. The crashes killed three members of the group, including its head Jose Basulto, who was part of the failed CIA sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
Although the planes were shot down outside of Cuban airspace, on several previous flights planes operated Brother to the Rescue did violate Cuban airspace, buzzed buildings in Havana and dropped anti-Castro leaflets.