Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday warned that Iran’s “global ambitions” are a threat to democracies in Central and Latin America.
The Speaker told members of the Council of the Americas he wants to see “the entire Western Hemisphere [become] a free enterprise zone — free markets, free trade and free people,” but cautioned that Iran could stand in the way.
Boehner, who led a congressional delegation to Latin America earlier this year, said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Cuba and Venezuela shows Tehran is looking to establish a foothold in the Americas.
“[Ahmadinejad’s] trip underscored the designs Iran has for expanding its influence in Latin America, and its eagerness to forge bonds with governments in the Western Hemisphere that have demonstrated a lesser interest in freedom and democracy,” Boehner told the audience of diplomats and international business people.
Boehner made the remarks at an event held by Conference of the Americas, where he was honored with the chairman’s award for leadership.