Interview With Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo
Secretary of State
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) Thank you for being with us. (Speaking in Spanish.) Is the United States going to be entering into a new battlefield in Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but what we are going to do is to work with the international community to convince Mr. Qadhafi to stop the violence against his own people, and we’ve laid out very clear demands in the United Nations Security Council. This is not an American initiative; this is an international initiative. And then we will be prepared with European partners and Arab partners, which has never happened before, to enforce the will of the international community. But the United States has a very time-limited, discreet, well-defined role to play in accomplishing this.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) But the U.S. Armed Forces may be involved?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, they will be. We have some unique capacities that neither European, Arab, nor anyone else has to contribute to this effort, and we will do so. But what has been really important about this is that it’s not just everybody saying, “Oh, we need to do something, go do it, United States.” It’s other people saying, “We want to be part of it. We’re willing to put our planes, our pilots, our military assets to work.” So that’s a big difference than many of the other situations that have occurred in the past.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) The message directly to Qadhafi is what?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As the President said very clearly: You must end your violence. You must have a ceasefire. You must withdraw away from the cities that you have taken by force. You must return power and water to your own people. And you must open up access for humanitarian assistance to be provided.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) -- Japan what an amazingly destructive incident --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness.
QUESTION: -- and many are worried about the nuclear after-attack.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Well, first, I think every American was horrified by what happened in Japan – a 9.0 earthquake followed by an enormous tsunami, which is a Japanese word for obvious reasons, and now, these very catastrophic developments in the nuclear reactors. There is no danger to Americans from radiation coming from Japan to the United States. However, we are worried about Americans and Japanese and others who are near these plants.
And we have sent our nuclear experts to Japan. They are working to try to determine what exactly is going on, and how we help advise the Japanese about what to do about it, because it’s a really unpredicted, unprecedented chain of events. We actually ordered that Americans get much further away from the plants than the Japanese have. We are providing --
QUESTION: Why is that? (Speaking in Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our assessment was that the potential for radiation fallout was beyond the 20-mile radius that had originally been discussed. In fact, it would be safer to go to a 50-mile radius. We moved a lot of our military forces who were helping with the events out of a wind pattern and further away from shore.
Now, Japan’s been fortunate in the last couple of days because the wind has been blowing out to sea, so we haven’t seen the impact that we were worried about. But we are literally watching this minute by minute, and we have told American citizens in Japan that they should take prudent precautions, and we have told the families of our civilian and military employees that if they wish to leave, we will facilitate that.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) Let’s talk about Mexico. Is Mexico Colombia during the ‘80s?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, but it faces serious security challenges, and we’ve been working closely with the Mexican Government, as has Colombia, because Colombia, as you know so well, has a remarkable success story to tell. It was a courageous effort by the Colombian people and a series of Colombian leaders who have moved Colombia out of the category of being a failed state, which it was, because of the combined effects of the narco-traffickers and the guerillas.
So what we’re doing with Mexico is to make sure that they get all the lessons that the United States, Colombia, and others have to offer, and we are determined to assist Mexico in President Calderon’s very courageous fight against these unbelievably ruthless criminal gangs.
QUESTION: You know there’s been a flare-up on the WikiLeaks issue because the president has expressed very little confidence in the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Is he going to be there? Do you have confidence in the U.S. Ambassador? (Speaking in Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this was a very unfortunate situation. I spoke personally with President Calderon about it and expressed our regret. But at the same time, the Ambassador has been very instrumental in working to make sure that the United States Government responded to the Mexican needs. I think the Ambassador will make an assessment as to whether or not he can continue to be as helpful as he has been in the past.
QUESTION: Fast and furious, this operation that has caused a lot of headlines in Mexico, arms going into Mexico and people are saying, “Is that the way the United States should be acting?” (Speaking in Spanish.) What’s your reaction to that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, we are committed to doing everything we can to stop the flow of what we consider illegal guns being trafficked into Mexico and being used by the criminals against innocent Mexicans. Different methods have been tried. The one that you mentioned is under review by the Department of Justice, because everything we do, we want to lead to the right result. And I think that questions have been raised about this by the Mexicans themselves and we should look into it.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) How would you describe the position or the condition of U.S.-Mexican relations right now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s good, and it’s a relationship between friends and partners who are very candid and open with each other, which I personally like, because being the Secretary of State, I see people often saying one thing in private and then an entirely different thing in public. With our Mexican counterparts, they’re very straightforward. President Calderon’s administration, it just lays it on the table. And we don’t agree on everything, but we don’t agree on everything with any country in the world.
So this has been hard. I mean, what the Mexicans are trying to do is to build an effective, professional, national police force, which didn’t exist; strong prosecutorial and judicial responses; a better corrections system to keep these bad guys behind bars; build good, strong community responses against these narco-traffickers. It’s a huge agenda. So I understand that it’s a pretty stressful time, and we support them and we’re going to continue to support them.
QUESTION: On the issue of Alan Gross, 15 years, other than talk and condemn, what can or should the United States be doing? (Speaking in Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think that the 15-year sentence is deplorable. Alan Gross was in Cuba to help people literally connect with the rest of the world, and as we’re seeing around the world, that’s a tide that is coming. You’re not going to be able to push it back out to sea, even in Cuba. He has served a very long time for doing what was not in any way criminal, in our view. And he should be released, and at the very least, on humanitarian terms. He should be sent home to his family, and I’m hoping that the Cuban Government will do that.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) Separate from condemning, is there anything you can or should be doing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are working closely with Alan Gross’s attorneys, who want to be very supportive of what they’re trying to do on his behalf. We don’t want to take any actions or say anything that will undermine the chances for this man to come home to his family.
QUESTION: Last thing – (Speaking in Spanish) –
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You know this, we talked about this a lot, the Hispanic community admires you and your husband, but especially you because of your actions with us for many, many decades. And many were taken aback and, quite frankly, upset with you when you said that you weren’t going to be in the public eye in the near future. You want to talk to us about that a little bit, please?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, I cherish my relationship with the Hispanic community in our country, and it goes back really to the time I was a young girl and I was --
QUESTION: You were helping people register. (Speaking in Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, that’s right, and through my church, working with the children of farm workers. So it is incredibly important to me, but I think that – I have signed on and am very honored to serve President Obama as Secretary of State, but at the end of his first term, I will have been 20 years in very high-level political positions, both appointed, elected, and by marriage. And so I’m looking forward to taking a deep breath.
And I think for many of your viewers, I will always continue to serve, and I will look for ways to continue to serve here at home and around the world, particularly on behalf of women and children.
QUESTION: Yeah, I think I’m going to let you slide on that, because I want to know exactly what you are going to be doing --
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- and where our community can be finding you. (Speaking in Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’ll make a promise.
QUESTION: All right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: When I get near the end of my tenure, you and I will talk, and I will give you everything that I can to be specific.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks.
QUESTION: (Speaking in Spanish.) Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.