Interview With President Obama

Friday, December 14, 2012
Transcript of interview with U.S. President Barack Obama by Univision's Alina Mayo Azze:

AMA: Mr. President, regarding the past election, were you surprised that a lot more Cuban-Americans voted for you than in the previous election and to what do you attribute that?

PBO: Well, I obviously am very pleased to have won Florida although I do want to get the results sooner next time. So that's something I want.

AMA: But the Cuban American vote.  

PBO: Yes, we have seen a steady increase in support for the -- in the Cuban-American community since 2008. I think the outreach that we've done, some of the steps we've taken, for example, to allow remittances back to Cuba while still holding a firm line that we have to make sure that political prisoners are freed and that freedom of speech and religion takes place inside of Cuba. I think that that approach, that practical common-sense approach to a Cuba policy is something that the Cuban-Americans definitely care about. And I also think the Cuban-American community understands, the same way most Americans understand, that we're a nation of immigrants, that we should embrace our diversities, that we should pass comprehensive immigration reform, that we should make sure that our economic policy is focused on middle-class families, and not just those at the very top. So a lot of the issues that are important to all Americans are also important to Cuban-Americans.

AMA: One issue that Cuban-Americans are worried about is, they believe that you favor a socialist model for our country. Cubans and Venezuelans especially because of what they have gone through. What do you think of that?

PBO: I don't know that there are a lot of Cubans or Venezuelans, Americans who believe that. The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican. I mean, what I believe in is a tax system that is fair. I don't think government can solve every problem. I think that we should make sure that we're helping young people go to school. We should make sure that our government is building good roads and bridges and hospitals and airports so that we have a good infrastructure. I do believe that it makes sense that everyone in America, as rich as this country is, shouldn't go bankrupt because someone gets sick, so the things I believe in are essentially the same things your viewers believe in.

AMA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is in Cuba, had surgery and has already named a successor. What message do you have for the Venezuelan people, in Venezuela and Miami, regarding the future of their country without Chavez possibly?

PBO: The most important thing is to remember that the future of Venezuela should be in the hands of the Venezuelan people. We've seen from Chavez in the past authoritarian policies, suppression of dissent. I won't speculate on what the medical condition is, but what our policy is constantly designed to do is to make sure that you have the voices of ordinary Venezuelans expressing themselves that they have freedom, that they're able to if they're working hard to succeed in that country, and we would want to see a strong relationship between our two countries, but we're not going to change policies that prioritize making sure that there's freedom in Venezuela.