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Nikki Haley Praised by Rubio, South Florida Republicans During Panel

NBC 6's Ari Oder reports from Miami-Dade, where U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley discussed Latin American policy along with other panelists.

(Published Friday, March 2, 2018)

Sen. Marco Rubio joined Nikki R. Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, for a panel discussion with Hispanic and Latin American community leaders Friday, as the all-Republican panel heaped effusive praise on her.

The discussion took place at Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique campus, after Haley’s travels to Honduras and Guatemala.

NBC 6's Ari Odzer spoke with U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart about his thoughts on gun control following the Parkland school shooting. The Florida politician did not give a firm stance on any policy proposals.

(Published Friday, March 2, 2018)

“All of us are just so blessed that we have an administration that understands who our allies are, who our friends are and who our enemies are, and how each should be treated,” said U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

None of the participants mentioned the administration’s refusal to implement sanctions on Russia for its cyberattack on the U.S., or the refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin. But they did discuss Latin American relations.

“I just came back from a trip to Honduras and Guatemala, this is the year of the Americas and so we’re gonna see the United States put a lot of emphasis on our relationship with those countries, how we can strengthen them,” she said.

That means, Sen. Marco Rubio said, not cutting foreign aid, as the Trump administration has proposed.

“First of all, it’s like one-percent of our budget, people think it’s like 40 percent and it’s not charity, it’s an investment in national security.”

The panel took several questions about Cuba.

"A lot of folks say the Cold War’s over, the Cold War’s over in a lot of places, but for the people of Cuba, it’s the same, exact same murderous regime,” said U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

After bashing the Obama administration’s outreach to Cuba, the panel agreed more had to be done to foster Democratic change.

“Now we have to figure out what we can do to further support the people of Cuba, because they know the power of their voice, but how do we get it the point where they can show the power of their voice?” Haley said.

An FIU student asked Ambassador Haley about President Trump’s infamous s-hole countries comment and how that impacts relations with Haiti.

“I was not in that room, I don’t know what was talked about…I don’t care…what I do care about is cooperation the United States has with Haiti, which is why I’m going,” Haley said.