President Donald Trump will travel to South Florida Monday and speak to its Venezuelan community, in an address during which he’s expected to demand embattled leader Nicolas Maduro leave power.
The speech at Miami’s Florida International University will be a warning to Maduro’s regime and a rallying cry for exiled Venezuelans living in the United States. It’s also anticipated to be a campaign strategy, as the former migrants could be a key voting bloc for Trump’s 2020 campaign in a state widely expected to be key to winning the race.
Trump is scheduled to speak at the university at 4:30 p.m. EST.
In Florida, an estimated 36,000 people identify as Venezuelan and the majority live in the Miami area. That’s especially critical in a swing state where elections are often neck-and-neck.
The United States has thrown its support behind National Assembly and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president until a free election can be held. Trump has officially recognized him as the leader in Caracas, but Maduro still controls the military and uses that to cling to power.
Trump’s envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told Congress this month “the current political and economic environment is unsustainable and [Maduro] will not be able to weather it much longer.” That’s in large part to U.S. sanctions on Caracas and state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA. The U.S.Treasury said it would consider lifting sanctions if steps are taken to “restore democratic order.”
Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for national security adviser John Bolton, tweeted Sunday nearly 200 tons of aid and $100 million has been committed to the crisis in Venezuela. But humanitarian aid shipments into the country have been blocked by Maduro, who doesn’t want U.S. intervention.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., traveled to Cucuta, Columbia, a city near the Venezuelan border where aid is supposed to flow into the crisis-stricken nation. Large containers and overturned trucks are said to be blocking supplies from entering.
Speaking in Spanish, Rubio warned that blocking the entry of U.S. food would amount to a “crime against humanity” and those responsible would spend “the rest of their lives hiding from justice.”
“Those containers behind us were put there by a terrorist, criminal regime,” Rubio tweeted in Spanish. “It isn’t going to work. Food and medicine will reach the people of Venezuela.”
While Trump courts Venezuelans, Democratic candidates for president could target Florida’s Puerto Rican population, who are increasingly frustrated with the president’s response to 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
This article provided by NewsEdge.