A top national security expert told Big League Politics the 2017 Western Hemisphere Security Forum, held Thursday at the Reserve Officers Association building on Capitol Hill, is titled: “Countering Transnational Threats in Our Neighborhood.”
“The purpose is to bring to together opinion leaders from throughout the hemisphere to talk about the security and economic challenges that we face together,” said J.D. Gordon, a national security advisor to President Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign and a former Pentagon spokesman.
The planned program includes a keynote address by Sen. R. Edward “Ted” Cruz (R.-Texas), who finished second behind President Donald J. Trump in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, he said. The forum is presented by the Center for a Secure Free Society and the Daniel Morgan Graduate School.
“Senator Cruz has always shown leadership on Latin American issues and we are delighted that he could be part of our Western Hemisphere Security Forum,” said Gordon, who facilitates the forum’s morning program.
Retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R.-Fla.) is slated to receive the Max Manwaring Freedom Award for her defense of liberty in the Western Hemisphere. Max Manwaring is a retired Army colonel and Army War College professor, who has written several books and policy papers on countering insurgencies, with a particular focus on Central America in the 1980s.
Other speakers include former Bolivian President Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga.
Gordon said there is more to dealing with Latin American and Canada than immigration.
“There are a lot of foreign actors in Latin America doing nefarious things, such as Iran,” he said.
“We’re trying to bring attention to the fact that Latin America has been used as a platform for America’s enemies for a century-plus,” he said
“During WWI, Germany used Latin America as a staging ground against the United States,” he said. “During the Cold War, the Soviet Union did the same thing–and right now, we’re seeing Iran involved in places like Venezuela to threaten the United States, as well.”
Gordon said Cuba is another actor involved in Venezuela, looking to undermine American security and national security goals.
In Venezuela, the Cubans are also trying to destabilize that country’s institutions, in order to usher in a permanent socialist regime there, he said.
“The Chinese and the Russians are providing financial assistance to prop up hostile regimes in Latin America–and a lot of people don’t understand that, they don’t know it well, if they know it at all, so we are trying to bring attention to that,” he said.
[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect changes in the speaker lineup.]