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Obama: Hugo Chávez 'Has Not Had a Serious National Security Impact on Us'

8:24 AM, Jul 11, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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In an interview with Oscar Haza, a Spanish-speaking Miami journalist, President Obama was asked whether he's "worried with that alliance between Iran and Venezuela--and Hugo Chávez."

"We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe," Obama said. "But overall my sense is that what Mr. Chávez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us. 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."

Obama also discussed Cuba with the host of the Spanish-language program, who wanted to know whether the president would show more flexibility toward Cuba in a second term.

Obama responded by maintaining that his Cuba policy has been "consistent" and said, "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. 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."

The TV host and Obama also discussed the president's new taxes initiative. Read more here, from the Miami Herald.

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