On Wednesday, Venezuelans in South Florida and in Venezuela plan mass marches to protest their authoritarian regime. One of Miami’s new congresswomen returned to town on Tuesday today to host a roundtable on the crisis and discuss solutions.
January 23rd marks the anniversary of the end of Venezuela’s last dictatorship in 1958. So opposition leaders there and here in South Florida are holding big demonstrations against what they call Venezuela’s new dictatorship: the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro.
Miami Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell met with Venezuelan expat leaders at her offices in Kendall about what Congress can do to help. Key issues are getting Maduro to restore democracy – including restoring the National Assembly he dissolved – and Venezuela’s economic catastrophe.
“I’m asking for immediate humanitarian aid because Venezuelans are going through some of the worst humanitarian crisis that we’ve seen in the hemisphere," Mucarsel-Powell told WLRN. "The Maduro regime is illegitimate. We need to work with the National Assembly so that we can bring democratic elections as soon as possible in the country.”
Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat, supports new legislation to give Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, to Venezuelans living in the U.S. She’s also sponsoring a bill to salvage TPS for Nicaraguans and other Central Americans here, whose local community leaders were also at her offices on Tuesday.
“We cannot be deporting Venezuelans right now as they’re trying to grab on to the last pieces of democracy that they have left," said Mucarsel-Powell.
The Trump Administration is unlikely to back TPS for Venezuelans. But it has levied economic sanctions against the Maduro regime, and Vice President Mike Pence issued a video Tuesday supporting this week’s mass demonstrations.