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By Jane C. Timm
President Donald Trump condemned socialism and urged a peaceful transition of power to end the Venezuelan crisis on Monday.
“We’re here to proclaim that a new day is coming in Latin America, it’s coming,” Trump said at a speech at Florida International University in Miami. “The people of Venezuela are standing for freedom and democracy, and the United States of America are standing right by their side.”
Trump expressed strong support for Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó and urged the Venezuelan military to abandon the country’s socialist president Nicolás Maduro, warning of financial repercussions and hinting at a military intervention in an speech aimed at rallying the Venezuelan-American community in support of the country’s opposition party.
Feb. 18, 201901:42
“You’ve seen the crimes and you’ve seen the corruption. You’ve seen the hunger and the suffering,” Trump said. “You have protested and protested with respect, but loudly, and you have prayed for the day we can now see which is just ahead — the day when all of the people of this region will at last be free.”
Last month, the crisis in Venezuela came to a head after decades of mismanagement and corruption: on January 23, Guaidó declared himself the interim leader. The U.S. recognized Guaidó as the interim president immediately, but Maduro, the socialist president of the nation, vowed to fight back and sought to block international aid from entering the country.
Trump’s remarks were a sign of the growing pressure the U.S. is seeking to put on the socialist government there, with the president specifically calling on Venezuela’s military to let aid into the country.
“The socialists have done in Venezuelans all of the same things that socialists, totalitarians, communists, have done everywhere they have had a chance to rule,” he said. “Almost 90 percent of Venezuela now live in poverty. In 2018, hyperinflation in Venezuela exceeded 1 million percent. Crippling shortages of food and medicine plague the country, socialism has so completely ravaged this great country that even the world’s largest reserves of oil are no longer enough to keep the lights on. This will never happen to us.”
Feb. 9, 201902:25
Trump called Maduro a “Cuban puppet” and argued that democracy in Venezuela would encourage its appearance in Cuba and Nicaragua.
“We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are on the table,” Trump added.
Trump has repeatedly alleged that Democrats are trying to institute Venezuelan-style socialism in the U.S., and Monday’s address included a few apparent references to what the president suggested was the threat of socialism on America.
“To those who want to try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message, America will never be a socialist country,” he said. “We were born free, and we will stay free now and forever.”