Interview: Sen. Marco Rubio warns about socialist regimes in Latin America and the presence of China and Iran in the region

Prior to his intervention at the Concordia Summit, the senator spoke with Voz Media about the advance of totalitarian governments in the hemisphere and the actions of the Biden administration in this regard.

Senator Marco Rubio is one of the most influential politicians in the Republican Party, particularly on matters of foreign policy. The bills and initiatives he has promoted have had a great impact not only for the United States, but also for the region. The Republican, son of Cuban exiles, has promoted sanctions against dictatorships in Latin America and has denounced the presence of China and Iran in the region, insisting on the threat that this represents for the United States and the free world.

Rubio is one of the few politicians in Congress who understands in detail what is happening in Latin America, which is why his analyses both for the media and on Capitol Hill are fundamental in matters of international politics. On this occasion, we spoke with the Republican about the Biden administration's policy towards Latin America, particularly about the current government's soft policy against the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela. Rubio also explained the threat currently posed by the presence of Iran and China in the region. Among other topics, the Republican analyzed the immigration crisis in United States. Under the current administration, the country has reached the highest number of illegal migrant crossings in its history.

A key moment for the hemisphere

This year, the senator will participate in the Concordia Summit. We spoke with him about the issues that concern him most about the current situation in the region and which he will cover in his speech at the summit. "We are in a key moment for the hemisphere," he stated, ensuring that the region sees many figures who "consistently align themselves against the positions of the free world." Rubio pointed out that while there are governments such as those of Argentina, Panama, Costa Rica and Paraguay, which are aligned in favor of the region, we also see the advance of far-left governments and dictatorships.

Rubio criticized the position of the current administration towards allies or those want to become allies. "We must be friends and support leaders and governments that are aligned with us, and that is not done," he said. He pointed out that at this time, there is a "tendency" in American policy to ignore, or even punish, those who want to align themselves with the United States. While at the same time, there is a "tendency to reward, negotiate, and try to appease and accommodate governments like the regime in Venezuela through the lifting of sanctions."

"We want to be friends of our friends, and we have to confront those who oppose not only the interests of the United States, but the interests of the free world."

On the presence of China and Iran in Latin America

Rubio is one of the few senators who has criticized the presence of China and Iran in Latin America and the threat this means for the region. "Cuba has a long history of intelligence and military cooperation with the communist government of China," said Rubio, explaining the relations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with the Castro regime.

The senator also pointed out that China has a presence in many countries in the region where, through dubious businesses, it takes over natural resources for the benefit of the CCP. He also highlighted businesses in telecommunications, and stressed that in many cases, the governments of these countries do not want to do business with the CCP, but they have no other alternative. He explained that the relations between some governments in the region and the CCP in many cases have their roots in the negligence of the United States. "In many cases, we have not done enough to create alternatives to what China has done in many countries."

Regarding Iran, he noted that this regime aims to have a presence in the region directly and also through Hezbollah. Primarily, this is because Latin America serves as a place for them to raise resources through illicit businesses. The second reason, says the senator, is that Latin America is a place where they have operatives, or terrorists, to take actions against the interests of the Jewish community or the United States. In the particular case of Venezuela, Rubio specified that, in addition, there is a relationship between Iran and the sale of weapons.

The Biden administration’s relationship with the Venezuelan regime

Recently, the Biden administration decided not to renew a general license to do business with the Maduro regime's oil and gas sector. We asked Senator Rubio his position on this decision.

"Reimposing sanctions is the right thing to do, but it is not enough, it is not simply reimposing sanctions because they violated all the agreements they made with us, but now what we are seeing is a complete assault against democracy. They have disabled all the candidates who could possibly threaten even a stolen election ... we have seen the arrest of many people from Maria Corina's campaign team."

The senator assured that the United States must work to explain to the European Union what is happening in Venezuela so that they also begin to impose sanctions against the regime. "It is important that our government also begins to put pressure on the European community."

Rubio also noted that he does not believe this administration is "committed to doing what is necessary," recalling that Alex Saab and Maduro's nephews, who had already been convicted, were released.

"[Maduro's] regime is not a government, it is a terrorist organization, a criminal organization. It is a mafia that has taken over a national territory."

On the infiltration of the Castro dictatorship in American institutions

We asked the senator about the case of Víctor Manuel Rocha, who for years served as a United States diplomat and was recently convicted of working as a secret agent for the intelligence agency under the Cuban dictatorship.

Rubio noted that Rocha helped influence Bolivia's elections in a way that went against the interests of the United States. He also highlighted that it is very worrying that many of these people who work for Cuban intelligence are not paid, but do so out of sympathy, which, he assured, complicates the situation, since it means that they are truly committed and can dedicate their entire lives to infiltrating until they reach places where they have real power.

Regarding the general state of the Cuban regime’s influence in American institutions, Rubio said: "If one starts to analyze all the Cuban spies that have been discovered in the last 60 years, not simply Rocha but before that, Ana Belén Montes and others, one realizes that Cuban intelligence has had an uninterrupted presence within American institutions since 1966."

Border crisis

Regarding the unprecedented immigration crisis that this country is experiencing, Rubio assured that since the beginning of this term, President Biden took measures not only to change all the regulations put into effect by former President Donald Trump, but also to change the laws of the United States. "The law of this country says that if you are here illegally they have to detain you until you get out of the country. ... Today, if someone crosses the border and surrenders to U.S. officials, they have an almost 90% chance of being released."

The Republican also pointed out that the Biden administration denied the immigration crisis for almost two years, and that although they now recognize the problem, the policies that led to this disaster are still in force.

Specifically regarding the case of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Rubio stated that "it is not only a matter of bad policy, but that he lied to Congress. He told Congress certain things, certain figures, that turned out not to be true and that he knew were not true. but he said it. ... And lying to Congress is a crime."

Finally, the Republican also condemned the actions of the Democrats in the Senate to avoid the impeachment of Mayorkas. He noted that his fellow Democrats used a legislative maneuver to avoid a trial that should have taken place.