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Venezuelan Expats To Nelson: Washington Must Get World On Board Against Maduro

Alexia Fodere
Miami Herald
Florida Senator Bill Nelson (center) meeting with Venezuelan expat leaders Friday at Miami Dade College's downtown Miami campus.

On Friday in Caracas Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro convened a new – and many say illegal – legislative assembly designed to give his socialist government dictatorial powers. In Miami, Florida Senator Bill Nelson convened a gathering of Venezuelan exiles to discuss what to do about it.

At Miami-Dade College's downtown campus, Nelson met with Venezuelan expat leaders to hear what they want to tell President Trump. Their message: the U.S. has to get the world on board to squeeze the Venezuelan regime’s finances.

Nelson told WLRN one challenge is that powers like China and Russia – and many Latin American countries – can’t be counted on to go along.

“It’s going to be difficult to knit those nations together," said Nelson, a Democrat. "But the United States government ought to try, and that’s what my recommendation is going to be.”

Nelson had suggested the U.S. should cut off at least some oil imports from Venezuela. Expats fear the economic pain that could cause Venezuelans back home. But they didn’t entirely discard the notion.

“Maybe it’s just a negotiating point," said Nelson. "One of the recommendations here was: Stop the payments for the Venezuelan oil.”

Venezuela’s economy is already suffering the worst collapse in modern Latin America history - and more than 100 Venezuelans have been killed in anti-government protests there this year.