Liveblogging a teleconference with Congressman Connie Mac on “Venezuela and Iran: The Case for Concern”
“The growing relationship between Iran and Venezuela reminds me of the relationship between Russia and Cuba during the Cold War.”
“Chavez is allowing Venezuela to become the gateway to evil in our hemisphere.”
Q. Can good relationships with Cuba improve our relationship with Iran?
A. Chavez uses this relationship as a tool to further his anti-American Bolivarian revolution. Castro has the solution: if he released the political prisoners, the embargo would end. If the Castro brothers are sincere about what’s best for their people, they would allow for free expression, release the political prisoners and allow democracy.
Q. Should we buy sugar ethanol from Brazil?
A. I am worried about the government deciding what to trade. That said, we should abolish the ethanol tariff and allow for the US to be part of the solution.
Q. What incentives should US give LA countries to not build relationships with Iran?
A. We should have a clear path to reengage in Latin America. If we don’t engage with them, Iran & Chavez will try to fill that void. The FTA with Peru and Colombia are examples of that. At the same time, for those countries who don’t see the US as a friend, we need to be serious and take the resources we have, use the resources to build relationships, and for countries who don’t, we should move our resources away.
Q. Does the US recognize the inflirtation of Iran & Hezbollah in the drug trade?
A. Yes. I was very pleased to see Sec of State Clinton so aware of the region. The drug trade is the lifeblood of this deterioration of freedom and democracy in Latin America. Chavez is closing his eyes, at the very least, to the drug traffic in Venezuela. He sees Venezuela as a gateway. As we see the drugs move through Venezuela and go to the Caribbean and Africa, we see relationships with terrorism through drug trafficking. It’s drawing in terrorist organizations throughout the world.
Q. If Iran assists Venezuela in a nuclear program what actions should the US take?
A. The statement of Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map should be taken seriously. Israel has the right to defend itself at all costs… from nuclear threat or all threats. As far as Iran & Venezuela, we need to stop Hugo Chavez from going down the road of military buildup…If the next step is to Iran help Venezuela to have a nuclear weapon, we can’t allow it.
Q. What are the restrictions to international waters? Are the ships between Russia and Venezuela under constant surveillance?
A. Yes, they are.
Q. Does the outcome of the election in Iran have any influence on Latin America?
A. It is not a free and fair election. We’ll continue to see Ahmadinejad. The world needs to put pressure in Iran, North Korea and Cuba to try to make changes in these countries to allow freedom to exist.
Q. Hizbollah: Rodriguez Action Center in PR, Is PR under any threat of inflirtation?
A. All countries of the Caribbean & LA, because of Hugo Chavez, are becoming the gateway to this in Latin America. We need to do a better job of communicating what we do know.
Q. Congressional statement on Jewish Community in Venezuela that was withdrawn.
A. I had offered a series of amendments, and he withdrew the amendment because there were more no votes than yes votes, but all the Democrats who spoke out agreed with the amendment but decided it was not the right time. I have a fundamental disagreement with anyone who believes it’s not the right time to speak out for the Jewish community in Venezuela? When is the right time, if not now? I will continue to push this resolution in Congress. We’re building a coalition of people to speak out now.
Q. Can you provide any information on Bolivia & Venezuela supplying Iran with uranium?
A. I’ve read the reports, & it’s very concerning, but not surprising. Chavez will do anything to tie with Iran. It all goes to say to Ahmadinejad “we stand with you.” Chavez is not dumb but has an ego. He’s put himself to be used by Ahmadinejad. All signs point to Chavez telling Ahmadinejad, “I’m your friend, help me.”
We need to strengthen our relationship with our allies and stop the growth of this anti-America, anti-democracy, anti-freedom movement Chavez and Castro are growing.
The call was sponsored by The Israel Project