Exclusive interview
"Biden has handed control of the Southern border to the Mexican drug cartels"
Republican Mario Díaz-Balart has a decisive influence in the allocation of funds abroad. In dialogue with LPO, he attacks Biden's foreign policy and explains why Latinos are moving away from the Democratic Party.

Mario Díaz-Balart is the protagonist of a global exceptionalism in American politics. The experienced Republican leader chairs the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, within the House of Representatives. And in the United States it is not the president who defines the amount and destination of funds for a good part of the country's foreign relations. That responsibility falls to a congressional subcommittee led, right now, by Díaz-Balart. Elected by the state of Florida, this son of Cubans has a long parliamentary career. He is a key figure in US policy towards Latin America. In an exclusive dialogue with LPO, Díaz-Balart demands a more active deployment of the US in the region, rewarding allies and punishing adversaries, while he debates between supporting two candidates from his state: Floridians Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis.

What do you think of the migration crisis along the Southern border?

What is happening along the Southern border is unsustainable. It is a violation of the rule of law and the rights of people who are trying to enter the United States legally. It's a process that is now quite disorganized precisely because of the chaos at the border. It's a disaster and it's dangerous for the national security of the United States. It's totally unsustainable for any form of technology. But this administration is unable or unwilling to address the issue. They keep saying that there are no issues at the border. We know that they have captured a fairly high number of people with terrorism records. We also know that President Biden has handed control of the Southern border over to the Mexican drug cartels. This is not a question of a person who tries to enter the US and reach the border. We must go after these narco-cartels that control the Southern border. They are the ones who control who enters and at what price. That's absolutely unacceptable.

"Trump está expandiendo su base electoral entre los latinos. No paramos de crecer desde el 2020"

You are the author of a Border Security Act that passed the House of Representatives last May. What happened with it?

We have passed legislation in the House to protect the Southern border. But so far this administration insists there are no problems. Despite the fact that there is already a fairly high number of governors from the Democratic Party asking for help, assistance, due to the crisis created by President Biden and his administration.

Regarding drug cartels and the fentanyl crisis, do you agree with the proposal to authorize a US military deployment in Mexico?

These cartels must be treated according to what they are. They are narco-terrorist groups and the US has the right and obligation to protect its people. Approximately 100,000 Americans die every year from illicit substances, the vast majority because of the fentanyl that enters through the Southern border. The United States has the right and the obligation to protect the American people. The American government has countless options, the problem is that this president does not want to do anything.

These cartels must be treated according to what they are, narco-terrorist groups. The US has the obligation to protect its people. Hundred thousand Americans die every year from illicit substances that enter through the Southern border.

What magnitude do you think is the gradual shift of Latino voters towards the Republican Party?

More than leaning Republican, the Latino vote and citizenship is abandoning, saying goodbye and moving away from the extreme left extremism that is now taking over the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is no longer a center-left party. I'm not talking about voters, I'm talking about leadership. The Democratic leadership in Washington has transformed into the extreme left. Much further to the left than the socialist party in France, for example. Or the European socialist parties. It has become the Socialist Party of the US and Hispanics voters have not fallen in love with the Republican Party, but they are watching with great fear where the leadership of the Democratic Party of the United States is going.

"Trump dice que apoya al pueblo cubano, pero se parece mucho a los dictadores socialistas que hicieron huir a muchos hispanos"

Following the meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping, how do you think the Government is conducting this competitive relationship?

I think that US leadership is important to the world. It's not that I always do everything correctly, but I think the world is in a more positive position when the United States is in a leading position. But that's something President Biden hasn't done. It's interesting, the person who was President Obama's Secretary of Defense, when Biden was Vice President, publicly said that in 40 years of service, Mr. Biden had not been right on any foreign relations issue. And now, that record has been extended. We are talking about a president who is confused and basically only dedicated to pressuring allies and giving gifts and presents to the enemies of freedom and democracy. And at the same time, pressuring allies of democracy throughout the world. We have seen that in Latin America, we see it in Europe, we see it all around the world. So, I don't have much hope that President Biden will reconsider meeting with that tyrant. I say tyrant because communist China is a dictatorship. Where human rights are not respected, there is no rule of law or respect for human rights. That is why it's a dangerous regime.

The Latino vote and citizenship is abandoning, saying goodbye and moving away from the extremism of the extreme left that is now taking over the Democratic Party.

One year before the presidential elections, you still have not taken sides with the Republican candidates in the running. Who will you support: Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis?

Obviously, I am going to support whoever is nominated by the Republican Party. The problem is that I have two very good friends in this fight. I have worked closely with Donald Trump on economic and foreign affairs issues when he was president. At the same time, I have worked very closely with former Congressman and now Governor DeSantis, and I think he has been the best governor of all the states. So, I have two friends, and right now I am in contact with both, and we will see what decision I can make.

Díaz-Balart, a Republican with historical affinity with Trump.

Have you already leaned in favor of Trump or DeSantis and still don't want to say it?

I'll see in the next few weeks, there's still a year to go. I know that the process is moving but there is still a long way to go.

Trump seems to have gained a very important advantage over the rest...

So far it seems that Trump will be the nominee for President. And in that case, I would be supporting him, and I would do the same with Governor DeSantis or Nikki Haley. I support the vast majority of the Republican pre-candidates, but there is still a long way to go.

"Los hispanos están despertando y se dan cuenta: los republicanos no seremos perfectos, pero no somos socialistas"

What do you think of Javier Milei, who is an admirer of Donald Trump and has a very disruptive outsider style?

I think he was a rock and roll singer and he has very interesting ideas. Once again, I don't like to get involved in the domestic politics of other countries, but without any doubt, he is a very interesting person, who seems to want to change the course of Argentina. Argentina, which a few decades ago was one of the richest countries in the world and now has unfortunately turned into a country with many problems, due to bad leadership, terrible leadership and also due to corruption that destroys democracies. I very much hope that the Argentine people, being very sophisticated, very intelligent people, decide well and do not want a president who takes the course like the one President Petro, Maduro or others are taking. And that he sees to make the people recover and rejoin the economy of this hemisphere.

I think Javier Milei was a rock and roll singer. I don't like to get involved in the domestic politics of other countries, but undoubtedly he is a very interesting person, who seems to want to change the course of Argentina.

You are advocating to renew the Generalized System of Preferences, que es crucial para las exportaciones de países como la Argentina. ¿Por qué apoya esa política de exenciones arancelarias?

It's important, not only for Argentina. I think it would be important to bring investments from communist China to this hemisphere. For this, it's necessary to have a good relationship with the US. And that is why I also insist on the importance of elections. Elections have consequences and, therefore, I am advocating for our allies to be able to help them, and in the US tax system to increase investment in this hemisphere. And that means that relations with the United States remain very positive and that dictatorships do not return in this hemisphere.

"Tenemos que entender que nuestros socios latinoamericanos no ven en China una amenaza, tal como la vemos nosotros"

Do you think that the United States ignored its "neighborhood" in Latin America many times? And in that case, should it pay more attention to it?

Without a doubt, the US sometimes does not emphasize relations with democracies in this hemisphere as it should. That's something I have done, it's seen in the documentation that I have presented. Because you know that I am the one who chairs the sub-committee that decides the funds for everything that corresponds to foreign relations. The funds are determined in the US Congress. So I am emphasizing that we help our allies. And also confront our adversaries. That is, those who are allies of the US, those who are allies of democracy, of freedom, I think we must do more to help them. And simultaneously, those who are adversaries or those who are helping dictatorships and the adversaries of freedom, of democracy. I think we must do more to confront them. That is what we are doing in the committee I chair.

What do you think of the current situation of Venezuela, where the opposition candidate is being practically vetoed by the government of Nicolás Maduro?

The people in Venezuela are obviously supporting the candidate María Corina Machado. And that is evident not only in the polls, but in the elections we have seen. That's why we see that the dictatorship does not want her to be involved in the elections. That's not acceptable. The Biden government unilaterally gave certain concessions to Maduro. Under Maduro's promise that they would proceed to transparent elections. Until now they are not doing it and that is why we I think we are going to see soon how those concessions are going to be reversed and sanctions are going to come against the dictatorship in Venezuela. Everything possible must be allowed and done so that there are free, supervised and transparent elections in Venezuela. That is the solution to the crisis in Venezuela, that is keeping Venezuelans poor because of the Maduro dictatorship. But there are great leaders in the opposition. The only thing is needed is to help these elections be held as soon as possible, transparently and with international supervision. Not only the US but the entire world has to severely increase pressure on the dictatorship and the dictators and those who help those dictato

Translator: Bibiana Ruiz. 

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El republicano Mario Díaz-Balart tiene un peso decisivo en la asignación de fondos en el extranjero. En diálogo con LPO, ataca la política exterior de Biden y explica por qué los latinos se alejan del Partido Demócrata.