Congressional Taiwan Caucus Statement on the 108th National Day of Taiwan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Steve Chabot (R-OH), co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, released the following statement on the 108th National Day of Taiwan:

“As co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, we send our best wishes to the people of Taiwan as they celebrate the 108th National Day of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

“This year marks a special milestone in the close friendship shared by the United States and Taiwan – the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Our countries share many core values including a commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan has benefited the global community and is critical to prosperity in the region. The Taiwan Relations Act has facilitated decades of economic, security, and trade relations. Taiwan is the United States’ 11th largest trading partner and one of the largest markets for American agricultural products. In September 2019, Taiwan sent an Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to visit Washington D.C. and 11 other states to sign letters of intent with related U.S. exporters sealing its purchase of U.S. soybean, corn, wheat, and meat worth about $3.7 billion dollars in the next two years. Our close partnership is key to the prosperity of both the United States and Taiwan.

“As Taiwan faces direct and increasing challenges to its democracy and security, it is important that the United States remain a strong ally. All four co-chairs cosponsored a resolution reaffirming the importance of the TRA and our bilateral relationship, and supported its unanimous passage by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

“It is an honor to serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus and to celebrate Taiwan’s thriving democracy. Congratulations again to the people of Taiwan on your 108th National Day.”

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Laura D. Hernandez
Press Secretary
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)
(202) 225-4211

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month


“Yesterday, I was joined by Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Vecchio and other community leaders to celebrate the diversity of our great nation and the significant contributions of the Hispanic community to the United States. I am grateful to represent a district that is 75% Hispanic, composed of business leaders, veterans, servicemen and women, humanitarian activists, and so many more. As Hispanic-Americans, we must ensure that the doors of opportunity remain wide open for upcoming generations so that they are able to seize the infinite opportunities available to all Americans. We also commend those who continue to demand freedom, human rights and basic liberties for those who suffer under tyranny in our hemisphere.”

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart introducing Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. Carlos Vecchio.

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart with constituents and community leaders.

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart delivering his remarks.

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Laura D. Hernandez
Press Secretary
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)
(202) 225-4211

Jose Daniel Ferrer Must Be Released Immediately

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) issued the following statement regarding independent journalist, and UNPACU leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer, who has been missing for over 48 hours after the Cuban regime arrested him and raided his house this past Tuesday morning.

“Once again, the malevolent regime in Cuba shows complete disdain for the basic human rights and freedoms of the Cuban people. I am gravely concerned for the welfare of courageous activist, independent journalist, and UNPACU leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer. It is outrageous that the Cuban people, and Jose in particular, have suffered atrocious human rights abuses at the hands of the criminal regime and its thugs. Jose, and all political prisoners in Cuba, must be immediately and unconditionally released.

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Laura D. Hernandez
Press Secretary
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)
(202) 225-4211

Diaz-Balart: Words and Photos Cannot Fully Depict the Devastation in the Bahamas

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) issued the following statement following his Congressional Delegation trip to the Bahamas to survey the damages of Hurricane Dorian.

“Some parts of the Bahamas have some of the worst damage I’ve ever seen. Words and photos cannot fully depict the extensive catastrophe that The Bahamas suffered. While there’s still work to be done, I am immensely proud of the United States’ immediate response to address the urgent needs in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. While on the ground, I saw firsthand the dedicated efforts of USAID, the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP, humanitarian organizations, and many others, who are helping those in need. In the face of such devastation, it was humbling to see the generosity of the American people.”

“USAID reports that about $34 million in humanitarian aid has been provided to The Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian. Just yesterday, USAID announced that it will be contributing $7.5 million to Samaritan’s Purse, a field hospital on the island that also serves as a shelter and has been providing critical health services to more than 100 patients daily while offering clean water and hygiene products. I would like to thank USAID Administrator, Mark Green, and his entire team for their leadership, commitment, and tireless efforts to help our neighbors in the Bahamas. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to ensure that The Bahamas has the resources it needs to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian.”

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart assesses the damages of Hurricane Dorian.

 

USAID tent set up in Abaco Islands.

 

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and congressional colleagues meet with USAID officials.

Aerial shot of Hurricane Dorian’s impact on the Abaco Islands.

 

Samaritan’s Purse Field Hospital.

Laura D. Hernandez

Press Secretary

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)

(202) 225-4211

Diaz-Balart in Miami Herald: In partnership with the U.S., Colombia is on a solid path to stability and prosperity

As co-chair of the Congressional Colombia Caucus, I want to highlight some of the remarkable advances that have occurred as a result of the strong U.S.-Colombia partnership, which is committed to combating drug trafficking, upholding the rule of law and promoting democracy.

The U.S.-Colombia partnership is one of the brightest achievements of U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades. Some analysts had fretted that Colombia would become a failed state in the 1990s. Prior to 2012, about 220,000 people reportedly died in the armed conflict, the vast majority of them civilians, while 22,000 were victims of targeted assassinations and 27,000 were victims of kidnapping.

To date, more than 8 million Colombians, or about 15 percent of the population, have registered as victims of Colombia’s decades-long conflict. To help Colombia confront these challenges, the United States provided the country millions of dollars in support, including the highly successful, $10 billion Plan Colombia, which helped transform that nation into the prosperous, stable regional leader that it is today. The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, which went into full effect in 2012, has also led to substantial economic growth. The United States is now Colombia’s largest trading partner, with $28.8 billion of two-way goods trade during 2016.

The Colombia of today is very different from the Colombia of 20 years ago, and the Western Hemisphere is better for it.

President Ivan Duque has continued this progress. Since his inauguration in August 2018, Colombia has eradicated 6,253 hectares — 15,450 acres — of coca fields a month, which is a more than 50 percent increase over the monthly rate during Colombia’s previous administration. Late last year, Colombia interdicted 457 metric tons of cocaine and coca base, which is about half of Colombia’s estimated total cocaine production. Duque is also committed to aerial eradication, which is effective and less dangerous to officials carrying out eradication efforts on the ground. The Duque administration is aggressively pursuing narcotraffickers, too. Last year, Colombia extradited 145 individuals to the United States for their alleged drug trafficking.

Colombia’s hard work has come at a steep cost and sacrifice. Combating the drug cartels, which are in league with violent terrorist groups such as the ELN and the FARC, has resulted in many casualties in the war for Colombia’s peace and safety. In 2019, the Colombian army and marines together have lost 26 individuals, and 130 have been wounded. The police have lost 31 in the line of duty, and 77 have been injured. However, these operations have had a tremendous impact, leading to the capture of 1,300 narco traffickers and the deaths of 47 combatants. Colombia spends more than 3.5 percent of its GDP on defense, with $700 million spent on combating organized crime and counter-narcotics efforts.

By effectively and aggressively pursuing terrorists and drug traffickers, Alvaro Uribe, Colombia’s president from 2002-2010, in firm partnership with the United States, set Colombia on a course toward prosperity and stability. The drug cartels and terrorist organizations that used to wreak havoc throughout Colombia have been brought to heel—and ultimately to the negotiating table. President Duque is continuing the policies that led to Colombia’s success by aggressively confronting terrorist groups such as the FARC and other drug traffickers. Work remains to be done, as violence such as the ELN car bomb attack on January 17, 2019 demonstrated, but it is clear that Colombia has become a leader in our hemisphere and a valuable ally in the battle against terrorism and drug trafficking.

The humanitarian crisis across the border has presented another challenge to our partnership and the region as a whole, as more than 1.4 million fleeing Venezuelans are estimated to be scattered throughout Colombia.

Colombia has responded to the crisis with sagacity and compassion, quickly recognizing the democratically elected administration of National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, while providing more than a million border-crossing cards, work permits and access to public services, including education and food aid and healthcare. Colombia estimates that as much as 0.5 percent of its GDP ultimately will go toward addressing Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, and the United States has promised more than $120 million to address it.

Throughout this disaster and whatever other challenges are to come, our partnership is strong. Both the Colombian and United States governments are committed to doing what is necessary to promote democracy and prosperity in our hemisphere.

Colombia has endured the Chávez-Maduro malignancy on its border for years, including its support for terrorists such as the FARC, and ties to narco-trafficking. Despite the daunting tasks ahead, I am confident that under the determined leadership of President Duque, and the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening that essential partnership, our countries will continue to successfully confront these challenges in our hemisphere.

Read the full op-ed HERE.

Laura D. Hernandez
Press Secretary
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)
(202) 225-4211

Diaz-Balart Commends the OAS for Supporting the Venezuelan People, Protecting Regional Stability

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart issued the following statement after the OAS member states determined, by a passing vote of 12-0, with 5 countries abstaining, to approve the call for a consultation body pursuant to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, which affirms the responsibility of the OAS to work toward “the maintenance of the peace and security of the Continent” (Art. 6).

“Today, the OAS has agreed to invoke the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. I commend the Trump Administration, U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo, as well as Venezuelan Ambassador to the OAS Gustavo Tarre Briceño and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, for joining together to support the rule of law, regional security, and the rights of the Venezuelan people. The Lima Group also has been instrumental in strengthening international solidarity with the Venezuelan people and the legitimate government of Guaido.”

“The world is increasingly united around the restoration of freedom, human rights, and security for Venezuela and our hemisphere. Today’s action was the next necessary step in achieving that goal.”

Diaz-Balart Applauds Additional Sanctions Against Maduro Regime

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) issued the following statement after President Trump issued an Executive Order imposing a total economic embargo against the Maduro regime.

“I commend POTUS and his administration for imposing another round of increasingly tough sanctions against the Maduro regime. These new sanctions freeze Maduro-controlled assets in the United States and prevent transactions with those Venezuelans whose assets have been blocked. These sanctions are crucial to preventing other businesses and foreign counties from propping up the Maduro dictatorship and his cronies with hard currency. Countries such as Communist China, Cuba, and Russia have kept the illegitimate Maduro in power, and these sanctions will make providing sustenance to the brutal, oppressive Maduro regime much more difficult.

“Today’s sanctions are another step toward achieving freedom and restoring democracy and prosperity for the Venezuelan people while protecting the national security interests of the United States. I will continue working with my colleagues and the administration until the Venezuelan people are finally rid of the malignancy that has oppressed them and destabilized the region for far too long.”

It Is Unconscionable to Deny Socialism’s Inevitable Outcome

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart issued the following statement after members of the House voted against the Motion to Recommit, which stated that Venezuela’s “economic, humanitarian, security, and refugee crisis is the direct result of years of socialist policies implemented by the regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.”

“It’s shocking that today, apologists of the socialist Chavez-Maduro regime failed to acknowledge the source of the problem in Venezuela, which is the repressive, socialist policies which are the legacy of the Chavez-Maduro regime. After decades of nationalizing private industries and concentrating power in the state, Venezuela has been plunged into destitution, corruption, and egregious human rights abuses. The socialist policies in resource-rich Venezuela, which promised to elevate the poor, has instead made everyone except the regime poor.”

“The failure to acknowledge that grim fact, as described in the Republican Motion to Recommit, shows that even today, apologists of the socialist Chavez-Maduro regime fail to truly understand why Venezuela sunk into the current crisis of blackouts, crime, poverty, and oppression. That lack of understanding is truly alarming.”

217 House Democrats voted against this Motion to Recommit

All House Republicans voted for the Motion to Recommit

Diaz-Balart, Soto: House Votes for TPS for Venezuelans in the U.S.

–– Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and Darren Soto (FL-09) issued the following statements after the House passed the bipartisan Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 by a vote of 272-158.

Rep. Diaz-Balart: “Today, the House of Representatives was able to gather the strong, bipartisan support needed to pass the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019. Today’s vote was an important victory toward the goal of ensuring that Venezuelan nationals who have fled the oppressive Maduro dictatorship are granted temporary protected status in the United States until it is safe for them to return to Venezuela.

“As I’ve mentioned before, our ultimate objective must be freedom for the Venezuelan people. Until that goal is reached, we must protect those who have escaped Maduro’s murderous, narco-terrorist regime. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to bring this bill to a vote. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the administration until we can secure protections for these individuals.”

Rep. Darren Soto: “Today’s historic passage of the Venezuela TPS Act aligns with our strongly held American values of compassion and democracy. Venezuelans have become the largest group of asylum seekers applying for refuge in the United States, with hundreds of thousands in Florida alone fearing persecution or death if they returned to their home country. With TPS extended to Venezuelans already in the U.S., we will be able to provide them refuge and save their lives. We now urge Leader Mitch McConnell to do the right thing, and support Senators Rubio and Menendez’s Venezuela TPS efforts, and bring our bill to the Senate Floor for a vote. We are encouraged by the vocal support from the Trump administration towards Venezuelans and expect TPS to be signed into law once it reaches the President’s desk. I’m proud to have worked together with Florida, and House, colleagues to advance the first bipartisan immigration bill to pass the House this Congress!”

We Must Continue to Stand with the Venezuelan People

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) issued the following statement after the House failed to gather the necessary votes to pass Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 under suspension of the rules.

“I am disappointed that the House failed to muster the supermajority needed to pass the Venezuela TPS Act under suspension of the rules. Temporary Protected Status is crucial to the thousands of Venezuelan nationals that have sought safety in the United States in the years that the Chavez-Maduro regimes have ravished the once prosperous and democratic Venezuela. I will continue working with my dear friend Congressman Darren Soto and my other colleagues to pass this important legislation under regular order.

“I have strongly supported the Trump administration’s imposition of tough sanctions on the Maduro regime, and it is that same rationale that warrants protecting Venezuelans who have fled the repressive Maduro regime. Our ultimate goal must be freedom for the Venezuelan people. Until then, it is crucial that we allow Venezuelan nationals to remain safely in the United States. It would be unconscionable to force them to return to the perilous oppression, crime, and destitution of Venezuela today.”