Republicans Vow to Halt “Policy of Appeasement” in Venezuela

Republican nominee for Vice-President of the U.S., Paul Ryan, has vowed that a Romney administration would get “tough on Castro, tough on Chavez” and to end what he described as a “policy of appeasement” applied by the Obama administration towards both Cuba and Venezuela.

By Rachael Boothroyd

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Ryan made the comments at a meeting with the Miami ex-pat community on Saturday (camcocuba)
Ryan made the comments at a meeting with the Miami ex-pat community on Saturday (camcocuba)
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Caracas, September 23 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Republican nominee for Vice-President of theU.S., Paul Ryan, has vowed that a Romney administration would get “tough on Castro, tough on Chavez” and to end what he described as a “policy of appeasement” applied by the Obama administration towards both Cuba and Venezuela.

Ryan made the comments from the Versailles Restaurant in Miami, Florida last Saturday, where he was accompanied by staunch members of the anti-Castro lobby, including Republican Representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Ros-Lehtinen is a member of the Cuban-American Lobby and the Congressional Cuban Democracy Caucus; organisations which claim to be aimed at speeding up Cuba’s “transition to democracy”.

"In a Mitt Romney administration, we will not keep practising this policy of appeasement, we will be tough on this brutal dictator (Castro). All it has done is reward more despotism... We will help those pro-democracy groups. We will be tough on Castro, tough on Chavez. And it's because we know that's the right policy for our country,” said Ryan.

The nominee had reportedly travelled to Florida in a bid to win over the majority Latino vote two months ahead of the US elections. Florida is currently thought to be a “swing state” and could prove a determining vote for the overall election results. Results of a recent voter intention poll in the state carried out by NBC news show that Obama currently has a 5% lead over Romney, with a voting intention of 49% to 44%.

‘I learned from these friends, from Mario (Diaz-Balart), from Lincoln (Diaz-Balart), from Ileana (Ros-Lehtinen), just how brutal the Castro regime is, just how this president's policy of appeasement is not working. They've given me a great education, lots of us in Congress, about how we need to clamp down on the Castro regime,” said Ryan. According to Ros-Lehtinen, Ryan is now a “loyal friend” to those who campaign on Cuba-related political issues.

Ryan's statements have caused some Democrats to accuse him of hypocrisy after he appears to have dramatically changed his stance on Cuba-US relations. Prior to 2007, the Republican had called for “free trade” between all nations, which included voting to lift the trade embargo on Cuba.

"To paraphrase President Clinton, it takes real brass to vote three times against economic sanctions on the Cuban regime and then come to Little Havana and ask Cuban-Americans for their vote," said Giancarlo Sopo, a Cuban-American supporter who told the US' Sun Sentinel that he would vote for Obama.

"It's one thing to have a genuine disagreement with someone on a policy. It's something else to change your position from one day to the next just to pander in order to win votes,” added Sopo.

Recently leaked footage of a meeting between Romney and party donors also showed the presidential hopeful lambasting Obama for believing that “his magnetism and his charm, and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chávez and Ahmadinejad, and that they'll find that we're such wonderful people that they'll go on with us, and they'll stop doing bad things”.

The leaked recording also shows Romney referring to Iranian President Ahmadinejad as a “crazed fanatic” and Iranian mullahs as “crazy people”. He also commented that, in his view, the Palestinian people have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace”.

With the presidential elections now drawing near, the Republican party is beginning to increasingly outline its prospective domestic and foreign policy, which Romney has said would be principally based on an attempt to implement a neo-liberal “Reagan economic zone” in Latin America and other regions, such as the Middle East.

The Republican presidential candidate has been outspoken in his criticism of the “anti-American” views purported by the governments of Venezuela, Cuba and Iran and has described them as one of the biggest threats to the United States today.

Earlier in July, Romney branded the Venezuelan government as a “threat to national security” and accused the country's president, Hugo Chavez, of “spreading dictatorships and tyranny throughout Latin America”. The Republican National Committee also circulated a video of Obama shaking hands with Chavez at the OAS “Summit of the Americas” in Trinidad and Tobago 2009 at the same time.

Romney has often claimed that the leader of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution has links to “terrorist” organisations such as Hezbollah and has access to weapons that could “harm the US”. He has never presented any evidence in support of these accusations.