Congressman David Rivera released the following statement regarding President Barack Obama's comments that Hugo Chavez's Venezuela has not posed a serious national security threat to the United States.
"It is extremely disconcerting that President Obama has chosen to turn a blind eye to Hugo Chavez. The threat that Chavez's Venezuela represents is growing from a looming specter in our hemisphere to a concrete reality with a worldwide network. Venezuela has already demonstrated hostility towards the United States, establishing well-documented ties with other dictators around the world, including Fidel Castro in Cuba, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Bashar al-Assad in Syria--all designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism by our own State Department. Most recently, it has come to light that the Venezuelan Air Force was illegally buying munitions from vendors in the United States that were selling parts without a license.
"In addition to his ties with other dictatorial regimes, Chavez has a dangerous track record. There is evidence that Venezuela is establishing itself as a cyber warfare center, and that the now expelled Consulate General in Miami was linked to a potential cyber attack on the United States involving affiliates of the Iranian, Cuban and Venezuelan regimes. Chavez has welcomed and provided direct military assistance to terrorist groups like the FARC. He has likewise provided safe havens for narco-terrorist and their drug trade as reports have shown that one third of the world's cocaine, more than 30 tons of Colombian cocaine, pass through Venezuela each year.
"While President Obama seems aware of the lack of free and democratic elections and the violations of human rights in Venezuela, that is only the tip of the iceberg of the threat that Hugo Chavez poses."