Tags: obama | chavez | threat | security

Obama Says Chavez Is No Threat

Wednesday, 11 Jul 2012 11:06 AM

By Andra Varin

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President Barack Obama said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has not posed a “serious” national security threat to the United States.

The president was asked about Chavez’s alliance with Iran during an interview with Miami-based broadcast journalist Oscar Haza.

"We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe. But overall my sense is that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us," Obama said in the interview, which aired Tuesday night with Spanish subtitles on Haaza’s show on WJAN.

"We have to be vigilant. My main concern when it comes to Venezuela is having the Venezuelan people have a voice in their affairs, and that you end up ultimately having fair and free elections, which we don't always see," the president said.

Obama said he would like to see U.S. relations with Cuba improve, but said the Castro regime would have to take several steps before that could happen.

"I believe that there should be a way for us to resolve this 50-year conflict with Cuba, but it involves recognizing liberty and, you know, releasing political prisoners and showing movement inside of Cuba," he said. "We've shown flexibility in remittances and lifting parts of the travel ban for family members, and I think that was the right thing to do. And my hope is that the Cuban government begins to recognize that their system is no longer working."

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