This week, freshman U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., showcased his foreign policy credentials.
Rooney spoke at the 2017 Latin American Summit on Monday, joining a host of fellow Florida Republicans including Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The Southwest Florida congressman used the opportunity to stress his experience on international issues and offer his thoughts on Latin America.
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to share my thoughts and expertise on promoting human rights, democracy, and free and fair elections in Latin America,” Rooney said on Monday. “As a former ambassador and current member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I know well the challenges and opportunities facing us as we cultivate relationships in this part of the world.
“Latin America is of great strategic importance to the United States, and is unfortunately too often overlooked by our foreign policy decision-makers,” Rooney added. “Dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela threaten stability in the region through egregious human rights violations, fostering drug trafficking, and by undermining the rule of law. Further, members of the Maduro regime in Venezuela have ties to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. The United States needs a greater focus on the region. Promoting human rights, democracy, and the rule of law would strengthen our ties to Latin America, and counter the growing influence of Russia, Iran and China in the Western Hemisphere.”
Rooney sits on the U.S. House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and he does have a background in the region, including serving on the Advisory Commission on the Panama Canal from 2002 to 2005 and 2008 to 2016, only taking a break to serve as then President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the Holy See. The freshman congressman also co-wrote “Trends in Latin America & Presidential Leadership” for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
Monday’s speech is not Rooney’s only foray into foreign policy in recent weeks. Last month, Rooney penned a column for the Daily Caller, calling for major reforms to the United Nations.
Besides sitting on the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Rooney serves on the House Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Subcommittee.
READ MORE FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS