Obama to Miami anchor: Hugo Chávez has not posed 'serious' national security threat
Oscar Haza, a well known Miami Spanish-language broadcast journalist and anchor, scored an interview this week in Washington with PresidentBarack Obama in which Obama said Venezuelan President Hugo Chávezhas not posed a "serious" national security threat to the United States.
The full interview aired Tuesday night on A Mano Limpia, Haza's nightly show on WJAN-Channel 41, better known as América TeVe. The show had shown portions of the interview Monday night, with Haza live in D.C., and teased to the president talking about Cuba and Venezuela.
The Dominican-born Haza, who also hosts a daily morning radio show that recently moved to Univisión's WAQI-AM (710), better known as Radio Mambí, said he was one of eight journalists from eight swing states invited to the White House -- the only one from Florida -- to speak to the president and other administration officials as Obama pushed his plan to keep some Bush-era tax cuts but eliminate them for incomes greather than $250,000 a year.
Most noteworthy from Haza's interview with the president -- no surprise here -- were questions on Cuba and Venezuela, key issues for South Florida's Hispanic audience (and voters). "If I don't ask you about Cuba, I can't get back to Miami," Haza quipped, in English, before asking the president about a "perception" that he intends to further embrace relations with Cuba in a potential second term.
Obama said he had been "clear" and "consistent" in his position.
"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 poltiical 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 hting to do. And my hope is that the Cuban government begins to recognize that their system is no longer working."
Haza then mentioned detained American Alan Gross and stepped-up repression on the island.
"We're not going to see big moves or major improvement in the U.S.-Cuba relationship if the Cuban leadership continues to do the same thing over and over again," Obama said.
Then, Haza asked about the alliance between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Iran.
"We're always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe. 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," Obama said. "We have to 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."
You can watch Haza's Tuesday night show below. The Obama interview is in English, with Spanish subtitles.