A bipartisan group of House lawmakers are calling on Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenChina asks its sworn rival, the United States, to 'guide' the Taliban GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization Pope on Biden communion debate: Bishops shouldn't 'go condemning' MORE to appoint a special envoy for Venezuela, to reinvigorate U.S. diplomacy against what they call the “illegitimate” leadership of Nicolás Maduro.
The special envoy position was held during the Trump administration by Elliot Abrams, appointed in 2019, but he left with the transition to the Biden administration.
In a letter sent Tuesday to the secretary, House lawmakers representing Florida called for the Biden administration to “expeditiously and judiciously” fill the vacancy of the special envoy to support democracy in Venezuela.
“Venezuela is a failed state, ruled by an illegitimate and corrupt dictator who mistreats his people, undermines American interests and values, and fosters relationships with our adversaries, including China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We believe this special envoy is necessary to help the Venezuelan people, and the government of interim-President Juan Guaidó, to return their country to democracy and prosperity.”
The letter was led by Rep. Michael WaltzMichael WaltzGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan MORE (R-Fla.), and joined by 10 other Florida Republicans and Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles House Democrat says she won't support reconciliation bill 'at this early stage' MORE (D-Fla.). The lawmakers point out that of the 6 million Venezuelans who have fled the country in recent years, hundreds of thousands have arrived in Florida.
The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment. Blinken, in his confirmation hearing with the Senate in January, had said he rejects Maduro’s control of the country, calling him a “brutal dictator.”
Blinken, during the hearing, said he agreed with the assessment by the former Trump administration to recognize Guaidó as interim president of the National Assembly, Venezuela’s parliament, following the country’s disputed 2018 elections.