Trump puts pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, supports Guaido

South Florida is home to more than 100,000 Venezuelans and Venezuelan-Americans, the largest concentration in the country. Speaking in the presidential battleground state, Trump also sought to draw a contrast with the policies of progressive Democrats, which he brands as “socialist,” as he gears up for re-election.

Trump said that “Socialism has so completely ravaged” Venezuela “that even the world’s largest reserves of oil are not enough to keep the lights on.” He added: “This will never happen to us.”

“Socialism promises prosperity, but it delivers poverty,” he said.

Trump was introduced by first lady Melania Trump and joined by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, who have all been outspoken in their criticism of Maduro’s government. Trump also highlighted socialist governments in Cuba and Nicaragua, which also have large expatriate communities in the Miami area.

“Socialism is dying and liberty, prosperity and democracy are being reborn” throughout the hemisphere, Trump said, expressing hope that soon, “This will become the first free hemisphere in all of human history.”

Shortly after Trump ended his speech, he tweeted, “I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death. LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free! Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people. Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!”

Guaido addressed the crowd in a pre-recorded video released by the White House and thanked Trump and the state of Florida for their support.

“Now there is a debate between the democracy and dictatorship — one between life and death,” Guaido said in Spanish. “Today this fight is existential.”

Trump said the U.S. is “profoundly grateful” to dissidents and exiles who have protested and raised alarms about the actions of the Maduro government. But his administration has also come under criticism for not doing enough to grant asylum to those fleeing the country.

“President Trump is two-faced on the Venezuela issue,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo. “He talks about fighting the Maduro regime, but his administration keeps deporting and detaining Venezuelans fleeing repression from the Maduro regime.”

Trump had been spending the holiday weekend at his private club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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