U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement regarding President Obama's assessment that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez does not pose a serious national security threat to the U.S.:
"It's now disturbingly clear that President Obama has been living under a rock when it comes to recognizing the national security threat posed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
"Hugo Chavez 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. Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal detailed how Hugo Chavez circumvents U.S. and EU sanctions to help prop up the Assad regime in Syria. And even Obama's own State Department belatedly but rightly expelled Chavez's consul general in Miami for her ties to a plan to wage cyber-attacks on the U.S.
"President Obama continues to display an alarmingly naïve understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face in the Western Hemisphere."
In an interview that aired last night on Miami's Channel 41, Obama said, "We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe. 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."