As Venezuela grapples with economic and political instability, some Florida lawmakers want Congress to take action in an effort to provide relief to the country’s citizens.
“It’s no food, it’s no living. It’s impossible to live in Venezuela the way that it is,” said Erica Rojas, a Venezuela native who now lives in Tallahassee.
In Florida’s Capitol Thursday, Rojas joined Democratic State Senator Victor Torres of Kissimmee, who is calling for an end of what he calls Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s “dictatorial regime.”
“I’m also pleased to sponsor the senate companion to my good friend Stark, in the memorial calling on the U.S. Congress to take swift action in providing humanitarian relief to the people of Venezuela,” Torres said. “And continue the political and economic pressure to remove president Maduro from office and support the new president, Juan Guaido.”
Several Democratic members of the Florida House are backing a corresponding memorial — a means for state legislatures to petition the federal government to act on other entities.
Rep. Richard Stark of Weston says he’s seen reports of highways being blocked, preventing humanitarian assistance from being delivered to the Venezuelan people.
“One of the reasons we’re having this memorial – it states in the memorial that we’re asking the government of Venezuela to allow humanitarian assistance to be delivered,” Stark said. “They haven’t allowed that to happen.”
And Rep. John Cortes of Kissimmee also spoke in support of bringing humanitarian aid, and did not mince words when it came to Maduro.
“I’m sorry, but this guy’s not a human being in my book,” Cortes said. “This is going back to the Holocaust areas, where you treat your people like garbage.”
Democratic Rep. Cindy Polo of Miami is also calling for Congress to take action.
Meanwhile, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando is urging Congress to go a step further.
“Congress needs to take real action,” Smith said. “They need to actually be able to offer temporary protected status for Venezuelans who are seeking shelter and asylum here in the United States.”
Smith says he’s drafting another House memorial that will call on Congress and President Donald Trump to offer temporary protected status for Venezuelans fleeing the Maduro regime.
In late January, Florida’s U.S. Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio met with the president to ask that he recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s real leader – which he ultimately did. Trump made headlines last week when he said during a CBS interview, military intervention is “an option.”