Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

A Record of Action on Latin America Issues


I would like to provide you with some information related to my work on issues of benefit our growing Latin American community. As the Representative of Florida’s 18th Congressional District and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issues affecting U.S. policies in Latin America are of utmost concern.

Promoting Stability and Democracy

I am deeply troubled by actions by the Hugo Chavez regime to undermine democratic institutions in Venezuela. This is why I am a co-sponsor of several bills calling on the Government of Venezuela to uphold the human rights and civil liberties of the people of Venezuela.

I am also a co-sponsor of a bill which condemns the actions and statements of Hugo Chavez, both in international forums and in Venezuela.

In light of Peru’s economic issues and large poverty rate, I have requested Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible Peruvian nationals who can’t return home because of a crisis in their home country. This would give undocumented Peruvians in the U.S. temporary work permits.

I helped pass the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, or NACARA, in 1997. NACARA provides various forms of immigration benefits and relief from deportation to certain Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and other nationals.

In 2006, I have supported a resolution which promotes U.S. efforts towards democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in the Republic of Nicaragua. This resolution also supports the work of Nicaraguan pro-democratic instructions.

Nicaragua is still recovering from severe devastation and demolition caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. I support renewing the Temporary Protected Status of Nicaraguans.

I have also requested Temporary Protected Status for eligible nationals of Honduras who can’t return home because of a crisis in their home country. I support an 18-month extension of the humanitarian program Temporary Protected Status, to Honduran refugees.
Increased Economic Relations

Economic prosperity is a key to security and stability in the Western Hemisphere. I am a c-sponsor of H.R. 3692, The Social Investment and Economic Development Funds for the Americas Act. This bill encourages greater economic integration and expanded trade in the region.

In the previous Congress, I co-sponsored H.R. 953, the Economic Development Fund for the Americas Act. This legislation would create a fund to assist poor and rural populations in Latin America. This bill also promotes the rule of law, democratic and free-market principles in the Hemisphere.

I was appointed as a Member of the House Whip team during consideration of the Dominican Republican and Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). This legislation paves the way for stronger U.S.-Latin American economic ties.

I am an avid support of expanded trade relations with Colombia. I have voiced my support on numerous occasions, in support of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which is still pending a vote in Congress.

I voted in favor of expanding trade relations with Peru, though passage of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement. This agreement will provide for grater investment and economic access between our two nations. This important legislation was signed into law on December 14, 2007.

I supported the extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which provides trade benefits for Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. This measure was signed into law on June 30, 2007.


Islamist Extremism in the Western Hemisphere

I am the proud author of a resolution condemning the attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina in July 1994. This bill recently passed the House of Representatives.

In 2006, I introduced a resolution which reaffirms the presence of Islamist terrorists groups in the Western Hemisphere and the threat they post to stability in the region. This resolution passed overwhelmingly in the House in June 2006.


Combating Narco-Terrorism

I am a strong supporter of Plan Colombia and have consistently voted in support of increased funding for the program. We have made tremendous progress, however much more remains to be done.

I have stated that the recent rescue of hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is proof of the tremendous progress Colombia has made. Therefore, it is crucial that we stand with our Colombian allies and push for House consideration of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement.

In the 109th Congress, I co-sponsored and voted in favor of a resolution calling on the Government of Venezuela to actively support strategies for ensuring secure airport facilities to prevent trafficking of controlled substances, narcotics, and laundered money.


Improving Diplomatic Relations with our Hemispheric Partners

I recently participated in a Congressional Delegation to Colombia where I met with President Alavaro Uribe and several other Colombian leaders. I have also hosted numerous Colombian officials in my Washington, D.C. office.

Most recently, in April, I met with Colombian Attorney General Mario Germán Iguarán Arana to discuss the progress his country is making to increase transparency and accountability in the judicial process.