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.
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 says he hopes conservative majority on Supreme Court will restrict abortion access Federal judge to hear case of Proud Boy alleged Jan. 6 rioter seeking release from jail The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit 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 HaleyNikki HaleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race MORE went a step further and said, “It’s time for Maduro to go.” Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloNation's fraught politics leads to fear, scars and exits Direct air capture is a crucial bipartisan climate policy Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead 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 RubioOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Gen. Milley faces his toughest day yet on Capitol Hill The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio 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.