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Chenoweth Calls For Naval Blockade Of Cuba But Idaho Lawmaker Denies That She Favors ‘Military Action’

Wed., Feb. 28, 1996, midnight

While Idaho’s two U.S. senators favor stiffer sanctions against Cuba for shooting down unarmed planes, Rep. Helen Chenoweth called Tuesday for a naval blockade.

Chenoweth said President Clinton’s push to end flights between Cuba and South Florida and tighten a 30-year goods embargo “seemed mild” in the face of President Fidel Castro’s “barbaric” attack Saturday. Four members of Brothers to the Rescue were killed when the two private planes were shot down.

“What we see in Cuba is the last bastion of the old Stalinist regime when their tactic was to poke a stick in the administration’s eye,” she said during a telephone interview Tuesday. “I think we need at least a blockade.”

A blockade would squeeze Castro harder than a simple embargo, she said.

Chenoweth clarified remarks made earlier in the day that appeared to suggest she favored a military invasion.

Chenoweth told KIDO radio in Boise Tuesday morning that former President Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have responded to Friday’s plane shooting as Clinton has.

Chenoweth then referred to the 1986 air strikes Reagan ordered on Libya to punish Moammar Gadhafi for his role in the bombing of a West German night club, in which two American soldiers and a Turkish woman were killed.

“You have to wonder what would Ronald Reagan do in a case like this when we look at what he did with Gadhafi,” she told the station.

Late Tuesday, Chenoweth said she “would not recommend” military action against Castro and merely meant Reagan responded more decisively than Clinton.

“What I like to see is quick, decisive, deliberate, strong action like we got with Ronald Reagan,” she said. “We haven’t heard a thing from Gadhafi since he (Reagan) sent those missiles over.”

Spokesmen for U.S. Sens. Larry Craig and Dirk Kempthorne said the two Idaho Republicans supported Clinton’s response, but hoped his legislative push included tougher sanctions outlined in the Cuban Libertad Act.

That plan calls for developing a plan for a transition government that would lead to a Cuban democracy and challenge Castro’s use of confiscated U.S. citizen-owned property.

The U.S. should “get tough economically,” said Craig spokesman Bryan Wilkes, but Craig is “leaving it up to the commander in chief.”

In Coeur d’Alene, a handful of residents had ideas of their own for handling the situation.

Retired electrician Jerry Welch said the United States should just go into Cuba and “take Castro out.”

“They know where he is, they could get him if they wanted to,” he said. “They put him there.”

Retired police officer Larry Davis, 55, said “I don’t think we should lose American lives over it,” but the U.S. should not hesitate to retaliate if Cuban ships or planes fly over national waters.

But Kelly Owens, an employee of Nabisco, said she liked the approach Clinton was taking “not getting too anxious. It’s hard to tell what Castro would do.”

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Craig Welch Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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