Anti-Maduro Venezuelans not unlike anti-Castro Cubans of yore

Anti-Maduro Venezuelans not unlike anti-Castro Cubans of yore
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Venezuela will be holding national elections Sunday to determine who will serve as president for the next six years. Spoiler alert: President Nicholas Maduro is going to win. He and his regime have imprisoned their opposition, denied free speech, silenced the media and manipulated the election process to ensure that outcome. 

The absence of a truly democratic election process is just a sliver of the tragedy that Venezuelans are living every day. A once-thriving nation is now plagued by Maduro’s dictatorship that can’t deliver security, economic growth or civil peace.

Tens of thousands are fleeing Venezuela in search of freedom and economic opportunity as the rule of law continues to be stripped away in their home country. Many of them have settled here in the U.S.

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Although new arrivals from Venezuela cannot vote, that has not stopped them from becoming influential and persuasive. They have mobilized and are calling on U.S. officials to join their fight to denounce the anti-democratic Venezuelan regime, expose its mendacity and demand fair elections. 

 

In the past few weeks, the Trump administration has spoken out against the Maduro regime, showing themselves to be true allies of the people of Venezuela and challengers to the oppressive, anti-democratic rule of the Venezuelan government.

All elected officials — both Republicans and Democrats — who say they support human rights, free enterprise, freedom of speech and fair, transparent elections need to speak as one against Maduro’s electoral thievery.

In a speech to the Organization of American States earlier this month, Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence knocks Sherrod Brown in Ohio, boosts Renacci Key conservative presses for shield law after seizure of NYT reporter’s records Scalise returns to field on anniversary of baseball shooting MORE called on our continental neighbors to hold Maduro accountable for violating the human rights and civil liberties of the Venezuelan people.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyAnti-Trump Republicans better look out — voters might send you packing US expected to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council: report UN approves resolution blaming Israel for Gaza violence MORE went a step further  and said, “It’s time for Maduro to go.” Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Hill's 12:30 Report Few voice support after House GOP releases 293-page DACA bill GOP immigration compromise faces more hurdles in House MORE (R-Fla.), the son of Cuban exiles, highlighted the economic tragedy in Venezuela by noting that “Nicolas Maduro and the thugs he has put in power have devastated Venezuela’s natural resources and economy.”

In meeting with opposition leaders from the Venezuelan exile community in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, highlighted how Florida has “seen so many people come to our state from other countries because they’ve been persecuted, because they don’t have liberties, because they don’t have democracy.”  

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate rejects effort to boost Congress's national security oversight The Memo: Summit gives Trump political boost — with risks The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Kim make history with summit MORE (R-Fla.) has been one of the most active lawmakers in Washington against the Maduro regime. He was one of the first senators to ask the White House to sanction specific high-profile Venezuelan cronies.

Last year, the Miami Herald reported, “One of Venezuela’s most powerful leaders may have put out an order to kill Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.” This didn’t stop Sen. Rubio from calling on Latin American allies “to work together and hasten Maduro's exit from power.”

Venezuelans, like the Cubans who fled the Castro regime decades ago, are entering the United States with a distrust of overreaching government. They are in search of a free and open society that values civil liberties, free enterprise, freedom of speech, individual responsibility and the rule of law.

They are looking for leaders who will deliver on these priorities, and who will work to encourage real change in the country they were forced to leave behind.

Lawmakers who choose to stay silent in the face of Maduro’s thuggery will not go unnoticed by the Venezuelan community.  

Wadi Gaitan is a spokesperson for The LIBRE Initiative, an organization that promotes free markets and limited government to the Latino community. Gaitan previously served as the director of communications for the Republican Party of Florida, as press secretary for the U.S. House of Representative Republican Conference and as communications director during Rep. Carlos Curbelo's 2014 campaign. Follow him on Twitter: @WadiJr.