© 2022 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Juan Guaidó Rallies Venezuelan Expats In Miami, But Doesn't Get Trump Meeting

Pedro Portal
Miami Herald
Venezuelan Interim President, National Assembly president and opposition leader Juan Guaido speaking at the Miami Airport Convention Center on Saturday.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó made a triumphant visit to Miami over the weekend after an international tour and addressed an exuberant rally on Saturday. But the man widely recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president did not get one big thing he’d hoped for.

Thousands of Venezuelan expats marched into the Miami Airport Convention Center singing Venezuela’s national anthem. They were there to greet National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó – whom the U.S. and almost 60 other countries recognize as Venezuela’s constitutionally legitimate president – but they were also there to give Guaidó a send-off back to Venezuela after his two-week world tour.

Guaidó's visits with world leaders in Colombia, Europe and Canada were meant to revive global support for his stalled efforts to oust dictatorial Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó – whom Maduro could jail when he returns – insisted his movement is back on track.

“We have the firm and determined support of the world now,” Guaidó said, speaking in shirtsleeves while pacing the stage with the microphone. “With them I’ll do all I can to end the tragedy of this dictatorship.”

Although Maduro looks entrenched in power, most expats at the convention center said they still believe Guaidó can dislodge the authoritarian socialist regime, which is blamed for the worst economic collapse in the world today.

"Because of Guaidó the world knows about what's happening in Venezuela," said Iran Andarcia, a native of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, who came to the rally from Orlando with her husband and two young children.

"We still have hope and trust him because he's still the only one doing this kind of thing for us."

Guaidó said strengthening that effort will also require stronger unity from the Venezuelan opposition. Some disunity was apparent in the Miami crowd when many began chanting for U.S. military “intervention.” Guaidó called for calm – but did not totally reject the idea.

“All options are on the table,” he told them.

Guaidó was joined onstage by a bipartisan gallery of South Florida political leaders. But he could not score a meeting with the U.S. politico with whom he most wanted a photo op: President Trump – who over the weekend was just an hour away in Palm Beach (and tweeted Saturday that he was playing golf).

In a press conference after his speech, Guaidó tried to downplay that disappointment – saying he needed to focus on getting back into Venezuela. But when WLRN asked him about comments from people working with his administration that he may be invited to attend the President’s State of the Union address in Washington on Tuesday, he said simply: "Stay tuned."

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.