Over the years, the United States has failed to pay sufficient attention to Latin America, the Caribbean, and South America. There is great potential for increasing American engagement in these regions as they continue to struggle with poverty, economic stability, and democratization.
With over 1 billion people and 35 independent nations sharing a varied ethnic heritage, the Western Hemisphere is clearly a diverse region. The 20th Congressional district is home to many people who proudly claim familial roots in the Caribbean and Latin America. It is my honor and pleasure and honor to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. Specifically, around a quarter of my constituents are of Hispanic or Latino background with countries of origin including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Additionally, the Haitian community in the 20th Congressional district is one of the largest in the United States, representing around 10 percent of the entire U.S. Haitian population.
I am a steadfast supporter of U.S. assistance to Haiti and have fought consistently to ensure fair treatment for Haitian refugees. I will continue to support efforts that help Haiti with its democratic development including the necessary assistance for reconstruction, development, and humanitarian relief. My Haitian constituents are a proud, productive, and active group that strengthens the district.
The United States must continue to pressure the current Cuban regime to promote a free and open democratic society that allows for political, social, and economic freedom for all. President Obama’s Administration re-established a relationship with the Cuban government for the first time since 1982, despite the regime continuing to rule with an iron grip. It is time to bring hope where hope has been limited, and it is time for the people of Cuba to choose a government through free and fair elections. I will continue my high level of advocacy for a democratic Cuba in Congress, supporting a variety of legislative initiatives regarding sanctions, human rights, and drug interdiction cooperation.
Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico continue to face the challenges associated with crippling debt and the effects of declaring bankruptcy. Puerto Rico has been in recession since 2006, which has caused high unemployment and rising austerity measures. I strongly support increasing medical assistance for crises like the Zika virus, empowering the Puerto Rican government to better control its debt, and enabling its citizens to self-determine their own destiny.
Mexico is one of the most important partners of the United States. From trade to environmental policy, cultural ties, and migration, our countries cooperate closely on a range of fronts. The current administration has insisted on engaging in negative rhetoric directed at our Mexican partners, endangering this vital bilateral relationship. Proposals to construct a border wall on the Mexican border are absurd, fiscally irresponsible and needlessly antagonistic.
There has been significant civil unrest in Venezuela since the April 2013 election. Clashes continue over high rates of crime, food shortages, and rising inflation. Venezuela is currently facing a decisive moment for its domestic and international policy. The dire economic and socio-political situation in Venezuela demands that we come to the aid of those brave Venezuelans who bravely demand fair multi-party elections and the protection of human rights.