House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman
For IMMEDIATE Release – December 18, 2012
The U.S. Must Counter the Iranian Regime and Its Proxies’ Influence in the Western Hemisphere, Ros-Lehtinen Says
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke today in favor of the Senate amended version of H.R. 3783, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. This legislation aims to address and counter the growing influence of the Iranian regime in Latin America. The measure passed the House by a vote of 386 – 6. Remarks by Ros-Lehtinen:
“I rise in strong support today of H.R. 3783 as amended, the ‘Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012’, a bill introduced by my good friend from South Carolina and a member of our Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Duncan.
“In September, the House acted and passed the Duncan bill overwhelmingly, and last week, the Senate further reiterated the strong bipartisan and bicameral support for the bill and the need to address Iran’s increased presence in the Western Hemisphere. In February, the Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing titled ‘Ahmadinejad’s Tour of Tyrants and Iran’s Agenda in the Western Hemisphere,’ in order to examine the growing threat posed by Iran and its proxies to U.S. national security interests in the Western Hemisphere—a threat that first became evident 18-years ago with the deadly assault on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Eighteen years ago, so-called Iranian ‘diplomats’ readily partnered with Hezbollah, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, to carry out the AMIA attack. Since then, Tehran has only increased its subversive actions as well as their diplomatic and economic relations with radical regimes in Latin America. Iran’s Ahmadinejad made two trips to Latin America this year in an attempt to garner support from his fellow tyrants: the Castro brothers in Cuba, Ortega in Nicaragua, Correa in Ecuador, Chavez in Venezuela, and Morales in Bolivia. Just last week, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and the Americas finished a similar tour around Latin America seeking support for a nuclear Iran.
“The Pentagon’s Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) underscores that Iran continues to expand its influence throughout the region; opening more embassies and more cultural centers in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay, in addition to its existing diplomatic missions in Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela. According to a U.S. intelligence analyst, these diplomatic missions are simply fronts for Iran to carry out its nefarious activities in the region and a potential platform to increase the presence of Qods Force operatives, an arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Iran is not only an enemy of the United States but also that of our allies.
“In the recent conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Iranian regime has time and again displayed its brazen disregard for peace by wanting to resupply the Hamas terrorist organization in Lebanon to continue their deadly rocket barrage on our greatest ally the democratic Jewish state of Israel. One state sponsor of terrorism after another continues to receive the royal treatment from these tyrants of Latin America.
“Last month, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister’s also visited the regimes of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. After that trip, news reports indicated that Assad, a close ally of the Iranian regime and an enabler for their Hezbollah branch, may be seeking political asylum in one of these countries as the situation in Syria continues to rapidly deteriorate. We cannot allow these violent actors a safe haven to conduct their evil schemes, and the presence of these individuals only reaffirms the significant threat posed by Iran, and its proxies, to the U.S. and the Hemisphere.
“H.R. 3783 requires that the Secretary of State to outline a U.S. government wide strategy to combat the aggressive actions of Iran and proxies, such as Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere, toward a comprehensive policy stance that protects the security interests of the United States. We must do everything we can to isolate Iran and its proxies from sources of financial assistance in the Hemisphere, as well as prevent entities from possibly helping Iran to evade sanctions. We must ensure that the U.S. is actively monitoring this threat and takes appropriate steps to counter the Iranian regime’s agenda in our hemisphere.
“I strongly support passage of this legislation and look forward to the President signing it into law.”