President Obama, stand with the people of Venezuela
In the last few weeks, the stories and images coming out of Venezuela have been infuriating, heartbreaking, and devastating. President Nicolas Maduro has unleashed the power of a police state against the Venezuelan people, who are being bloodied, beaten, and murdered at the hands of their own government.
We are witnessing a regime striking down its own people for exercising their voice and speaking out against those in power. The situation is tragic and unacceptable. As governor, I’ve been proud to stand side-by-side with Florida’s Venezuelan community as we demonstrate our support for the people of Venezuela who refuse to be silenced.
Sadly, you won’t likely hear that kind of support from President Obama when he visits Miami today. Despite the continuous images of violence and the pleas from our Venezuelan community, the president has been silent. The message to the president should be clear: Maduro’s actions deserve not only the strongest condemnation, but also warrant significant sanctions.
Last week, I met with President Obama at the White House and asked him to immediately announce that the U.S would consider sanctions against Venezuela. He did no such thing.
I also visited El Arepazo 2, a Doral restaurant and gathering spot for the Venezuelan community to express support for their friends and family back home. I was moved by their passion and pride. I sent a letter to the president asking him to visit Doral so he could hear the calls for freedom and democracy in Venezuela, but he has stayed silent.
I applaud the leadership of Leopoldo Lopez, the pro-democracy leader who has called for peaceful opposition to the Maduro administration. His renewed calls for protests will continue to send a message to the regime and the rest of the world that the Venezuelan people will continue to be resolute. President Obama should use all diplomatic measures to denounce his unjust arrest. Once again, the president has taken no meaningful action.
We know that the Cuban dictatorship of the Castro brothers has a close relationship with Maduro, and is helping to guide his oppressive apparatus. This sort of meddling only threatens freedom in Venezuela as communist Cuba threatens to exert greater influence. President Obama needs to recognize the seriousness of that threat and act accordingly, but he has choosen to ignore these troubling signs.
We are lucky to live in a country that believes in a foundation of liberty and free speech. Freedom-loving people around the world look to the United States as an example of how to embrace diverse political backgrounds, foster differing opinions, and use those differences to make our communities and our country stronger.
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