U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced the introduction of the Western Hemisphere Security Cooperation Act of 2012 (H.R. 6067) she authored. The bill, introduced on Friday, provides a comprehensive approach to counter current and emerging threats to the United States and its allies in the Western Hemisphere.
"Drug cartels, narcotraffickers, money launderers, extremist groups, and regional tyrants have created a toxic brew which threatens security, stability, and democracy in Latin America and throughout the Western Hemisphere," Ros-Lehtinen said. "Without a comprehensive strategy to address this multi-faceted threat, U.S. security, our interests, and our allies will be further jeopardized."
"We are also continuing to see more and more activity and involvement in the Western Hemisphere from the likes of Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other tyrants, and like-minded extremist groups," Ros-Lehtinen said. "This legislation makes it U.S. policy to deny Iran, its proxies such as Hezbollah, and other dangerous extremists any safe haven or financial support in the region, as well as to deter Latin American governments from cooperating with them," she added.
Ros-Lehtinen's bill seeks to address the growing threat posed by Iran, its proxies, and other extremists in the region. It also urges the Department of State to establish a Western Hemisphere Regional Coordination Center with participating allied countries in the region to manage efforts, capacity, and intelligence information to efficiently fight drug traffickers and monitor extremist and other illicit activities. The bill also encourages the creation of an agreement to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons throughout the Western Hemisphere.
"The United States cannot sit idly by as its enemies actively seek to harm our interests in the Western Hemisphere," Ros-Lehtinen said. She continued: "This bill also seeks to prevent individuals and corporations from investing in Cuba's oil drilling aspirations in order to prevent the Castro regime from having access to a new financial spigot to continue its nefarious activities."