Yesterday, America celebrated Independence Day, and I paused once again to reflect on the blessings we take for granted, bestowed upon us by this great nation. While we are grateful for all those who sacrifice for our freedoms each and every day, it is incumbent upon us to strive for a more perfect Union for all Americans.
Today, on July 5th, the people of Venezuela celebrate their Independence Day, but a cause for celebration is scarce at best. Sadly, they see their nation under the heinous control of a dictatorship oppressing its people by stripping them of their freedoms and basic human rights.
On July 5, 1811, Venezuela declared its independence from Spain, making the country the first colony in South America to do so. Today should be a joyous day for all Venezuelans, but for two decades, the people of that country have seen their once prosperous nation descend into chaos. Lack of basic goods, systematic and violent tyranny, and violations of human rights have been thrust upon the people—first by Hugo Chavez and now by Nicolas Maduro’s regime.
These despots promised to bring ‘socialism into the 21st century’ for their country. And they delivered. Socialism in Venezuela has brought misery, suffering and oppression—turning one of the richest countries into one of the poorest.
Throughout history, America has always stood on the side of liberty and democracy. It’s why President Trump and his administration remain committed to the cause of a democratic Venezuela. As a matter of fact, this administration has talked the talk and walked the walk—starting in the Oval Office with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, all of them staunch allies in our pursuit of democracy.
The administration has seen these horrors of socialism first-hand. Last year, Second Lady Karen Pence and the Vice President met with Venezuelan refugees at the Calvary Chapel in Cartagena, Colombia. They heard stories of struggle and stories of courage in the quest for freedom.
Moreover, the Trump administration, through the U.S. State Department and USAID, has provided over $472 million in humanitarian funding to address the ongoing regional crisis. Additionally, in January 2019, the President was the first global leader to recognize Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, paving the way for over 58 countries to follow suit.
As the leaders of a state that is home to the country’s largest Venezuelan-American community, Governor DeSantis and I have repeatedly stood by the Trump administration. We welcomed to the Governor’s Mansion Fabiana Rosales de Guaidó, wife of the country’s interim leader, while subsequently working with Secretary Pompeo and Vice President Pence to promote a peaceful transition.
President Trump has also remained resolute in his commitment to ridding Venezuela of its brutal repression by imposing bold and decisive sanctions on individuals and entities directly responsible for the country becoming a socialist dictatorship and deprived the Venezuelan people of prosperity and opportunity.
Among the entities that have been sanctioned is the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), for its role as a longtime slush fund for the Chávez and Maduro regimes. The U.S. Department of Justice has also charged several senior, current and former officials in Maduro’s illegitimate government, including Maduro himself, for corruption, drug trafficking, and narco-terrorism.
While our current strategy under President Trump is to restore hope, optimism, and freedom in Venezuela, this has not always been the case. While Joe Biden was Vice President, the Obama-Biden administration fully restored diplomatic ties between the United States and the Cuban dictatorship, allowing the Castro regime to increase its support for Maduro. The Obama-Biden administration even blocked sanctions on Maduro as he starved and murdered his own people.
A Biden presidency would fail to put America first by enabling Cuban malfeasance and propping up a socialist and brutal regime in Venezuela, just as he did while he was vice president.
Conversely, President Trump will never cower to tyrannical socialist governments. That is why I proudly stand with his steadfast leadership, his administration and the courageous people of Venezuela, today, on their Independence Day, and daily in their struggle to reclaim a true and lasting democracy.
( Jeanette Nuñez is the Lieutenant Governor of Florida, the Co-Chair of Latinos for Trump)