Republicans slam Obama for Venezuela comments
President Obama’s comments about Venezuela to Spanish-language reporter Oscar Haza have drawn criticism from Republicans.
By EMILY DERUY
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R.-Fl.) is the latest in a string of Republican lawmakers to criticize President Obama for comments he made during an interview with a Spanish-language television station.
Per the Miami Herald, the president told Oscar Haza of WJAN-Channel 41 that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez does not pose a serious security threat to the United States.
“We’re always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe,” said the president. “But overall my sense is that what Mr. Chávez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us. We have to be vigilant. My main concern when it comes to Venezuela is having the Venezuelan people have a voice in their affairs, and that you end up ultimately having fair and free elections, which we don’t always see.”
Republicans jumped at the chance to call the president naive. Mitt Romney released a statement that read:
This is a stunning and shocking comment by the president. It is disturbing to see him downplaying the threat posed to U.S. interests by a regime that openly wishes us ill. Hugo Chávez has provided safe haven to drug kingpins, encouraged regional terrorist organizations that threaten our allies like Colombia, has strengthened military ties with Iran and helped it evade sanctions, and has allowed a Hezbollah presence within his country’s borders. And he is seeking to lead — together with [Cuba’s] Castros — a destabilizing, anti-democratic, and anti-American ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ across Latin America.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fl.) added that:
Hugo Chávez is not only a threat to the Venezuelan people’s freedom and democratic aspirations, he has also supported Iran’s regime in its attempts to expand its intelligence network throughout the hemisphere, facilitated money laundering activities that finance state sponsors of terrorism and provided a safe haven for FARC narco-terrorists, among many other actions.
And now Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has weighed in on the controversy with the following statement:
Chávez has rolled out the red carpet to the Iranians and their nefarious schemes in our hemisphere, permitting Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah to gain a foothold in the region. Chávez also supports the Syrian regime with shipments of diesel and oil that have allowed Assad to continue murdering his people. As if all this weren’t enough to cause concern among our policy makers, Chavez’ ties to drug kingpins and narco-terrorists across Latin America are a direct threat to our nation and to our democratic allies.
She also took the opportunity to call for “a change in the White House” and voiced her support of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who she said “will provide the leadership, the determination, the steely resolve that is needed to face the challenges of our hemisphere.”