While facing sharp criticism nationwide, including lawsuits from 16 states, for declaring a national emergency over money to build a border wall, President Trump, of course, spent Presidents Day in friendly territory:
He came to Miami-Dade and a packed Florida International University arena to show support for Venezuelans, but also Cubans and Nicarguans who support his administration’s efforts to apply more political pressure to end the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro and throw support to Juan Guaido as the South American country’s interim leader.
Trump found a warm reception in the city of refugees from dictatorships and political unrest — and rightly so. Trump deserves credit for being the only president since Ronald Reagan to take a hard stand against dictators in Latin America, a region often forgotten by administrations.
But more important, Trump may have given the thousands gathered a preview of his 2020 re-election campaign battle cry. Going after undocumented immigrants, as he touted as a 2016 campaign promise, is a perennial rant for the the president. So he’s now targeting old-school socialism and communism.
“America will never be a socialist country,” Trump preached to the choir highlighting the troubles that have plagued Venezuela since it went down that road under late leader Hugo Chávez.
Such statements hark back to America’s past glories, much like Trump’s State of the Union address where he made numerous mentions of World War II. But Monday, in the context of Venezuela, Trump spoke directly to Maduro and his military.
The Trump administration is hoping to step up international pressure on the dictator, who’s blocking at the Colombia border millions of dollars in humanitarian aid from entering his country. Sen Marco Rubio, who has taken a leadership role in the Venezuelan effort, and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart flew to the Colombia-Venezuela border over the weekend to attract international attention to the blockaded food and medicine. Maduro is being given until Saturday to allow the goods in. The unspoken plan is that if the aid gets in, the Venezuelan people, who are experiencing tremendous shortages, may welcome it enough to turn on Maduro.
The Venezuelan military must now turn its back on Maduro and allow aid to enter Venezuela, the president, senator and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis all said.
“You must not block this humanitarian aid,” Trump said. “We seek a peaceful transition of power. But all options are open. If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.”
Such talk attracted opposing demonstrators to FIU who demanded that the United States keep out of Venezuela and opposed any U.S. military action there.
U.S. military action is just the wrong, and deadly, action to take when Venezuelans themselves already are taking matters into their own hands — Guaido’s takeover being the biggest first step. The U.S.’ unending thirst for oil must not supersede Venezuelans’ desire to do for themselves. Trump, so far, has deftly navigated our involvement in Venezuela. He can continue to do so without the threat, or folly, of military intrusion.