"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 likeminded extremist groups," Ros-Lehtinen said Monday. "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."
Ros-Lehtinen, a longtime supporter of tougher sanctions against Cuba, is seeking to tighten them again, this time by deterring foreign investment that helps Cuba develop its petroleum resources.
"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," she said. Ros-Lehtinen earlier this year was critical of foreign exploration for oil in Cuba's waters.
The Western Hemisphere Security Cooperation Act, H.R. 6067, goes beyond Iran and would require several steps aimed at reducing drug trafficking and human-rights abuses. It would set up a Western Hemisphere Regional Coordination Center that would coordinate efforts to counter these activities, and direct the State Department to use half of the money that now goes to the Organization of American States to various groups that fight against these activities.
"Drug cartels, narco-traffickers, 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," she said. "Without a comprehensive strategy to address this multifaceted threat, U.S. security, our interests and our allies will be further jeopardized."