Venezuela is crumbling, and its residents are fleeing to neighboring countries in search of a better life and better opportunities.
I know this because my family fled Venezuela just as “Chavismo” gripped the oil-rich nation.
Back in 2000, fearing the direction the country was headed under its newly elected president and strongman, Hugo Chavez, my parents left Venezuela in search of better opportunities for their three children.
For the past sixteen years, my family has lived in the United States - and despite our lack of immigration status - this country is our home.
My parents’ vision of America is threatened as the emotions and rhetoric surrounding this year’s election leave them with an intense deja vu and a fear they have not felt since 1999, when Hugo Chavez was a presidential candidate who delivered loud and long-winded speeches and boasted about his plan to make Venezuela “great again.”
In just a couple of weeks, the United States will vote to elect a new president. One of the two presidential candidates, Donald Trump, has, over the last 16 months, berated Latinos, immigrants, women, Muslims, and other minorities in a manner eerily similar to Hugo Chavez and frighteningly familiar for Venezuelans.
During the second presidential debate, Donald Trump stated that he would seek to appoint a special prosecutor to jail Hillary Clinton, his political opponent for president. This threat from Donald Trump was heavily reported, as Trump suggested using the power of his office and the federal government to jail his political opponent, Hillary Clinton. But it was Miami Herald columnist, Fabiola Santiago, who put Trump’s comments in perspective for Cuban and Venezuelan readers:
In a night of historic political degradation, Donald Trump explicitly pledged that, if elected, he would investigate and imprison his political opponent.
That’s exactly what Nicolás Maduro is doing right now to stay in power in crumbling Venezuela.
That’s exactly how Raúl Castro handles dissent in Cuba, no matter how peaceful.
That’s exactly what Fidel Castro did when he rose to power in 1959.
Earlier this month, Univision’s Jorge Ramos also highlighted the striking similarities he observed between both Hugo Chavez and Donald Trump:
Everything is about them. The word “I” is heard nonstop in their speeches. Also, Chavez tended to refer to himself in the third person; Trump has done the same in his speeches. This egocentricity is a sign of arrogance, if not megalomania.
That is why it is so surprising for me to see Venezuelans embracing Marco Rubio.
Marco Rubio is Florida’s junior Senator, a man who has been an outspoken critic of Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s current President Nicolas Maduro for years.
Yes, Marco Rubio and his Republican friends have met with Venezuelans on numerous occasions to discuss ways to help alleviate the socioeconomic and political issues plaguing Venezuela, but what exactly has he done for our communities as a whole?
Marco Rubio is a Donald Trump supporter who has taken every opportunity to defend the racist and xenophobic rhetoric of the Republican presidential candidate.
Moreover, Marco Rubio’s immigration agenda mirrors that of Donald Trump - meaning that Venezuelans like me, who are currently undocumented,would be deported back to Venezuela under Marco Rubio and Donald Trump’s extreme enforcement priorities.
That is why I must ask you, Venezuelans in the United States, why back politicians who love to ask for your support and deliver nothing in exchange?
Other than supporting Donald Trump for president of this country, Marco Rubio’s record is plagued with extreme absenteeism and opposition to popular immigration programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and he has consistently worked against the interest of Latino and immigrant communities across Florida.
There is no excuse for a man that loves to criticize the Venezuelan government, which I too take issue with, to support Donald Trump through and through. That is why I decided to broadcast my story via South Florida radio stations in order to expose the troubling connection that exists between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.
Dear Venezuelans in the United States, I ask you—as a fellow Venezuelan who is ineligible to vote in this country and would be deported under President Trump—to take a hard and close look at Marco Rubio’s unconditional support for Donald Trump.
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