How Trump Has Failed Venezuelans Throughout His Presidency

President Donald Trump at our Ocean Bank Convocation Center on Feb. 18, 2019.

Gustavo Contreras/Staff Writer

In 2016, Trump promised Venezuelan-Americans a call to action and a force of change in our native country. It is now 2020, and with his first term about to expire, Venezuelans have not gotten what we were promised.

I was born and raised in Venezuela before immigrating to “Westonzuela” at the age of eight. With Weston being home to plenty of Venezuelans (both refugees and first-generation Americans), most people would agree on the need for some sort of intervention in my homeland. 

Because of that, it made sense for some Venezuelans to root for Trump when he first ran for president four years ago. In fact, some Venezuelan-Americans still firmly believe in re-electing the incumbent president. 

But here’s the issue with that: since Trump’s election, the disaster in Venezuela has only gotten worse. With nearly four years under the Trump presidency, there still has not been any major U.S. involvement worthy of our votes. Yes, the Department of Justice placed a $15 million dollar bounty on autocrat Nicolás Maduro, but when one places a bounty then says they’re open for meetings, the bounty just sounds like lip service. 

It’s a small step forward, but it still isn’t what was promised or expected. You’re the President. You have direct control of military positioning and aid, yet do nothing. 

Unfortunately, the grim wound of being stabbed in the back has been salted and deepened. 

In February 2019, President Trump attended our university to voice his support for Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guiadó, who had been appointed by the country’s democratically elected National Assembly to take Maduro’s place until fair elections were held. In his visit, Trump promised Venezuelan students that “all options are open.” The speech resulted in expectations of change, but no action. 

An attendee shows support for the President during his visit to FIU.

“We have made this as clear as we can. The President has said repeatedly all options are on the table,” then National Security Advisor John Bolton reiterated in a March 2019 interview with Fox News

A little over a year later, Bolton’s newly published memoir “The Room Where It Happens,” tells a different story.

In his book, Bolton states that Trump’s opinion of Guaidó declined shortly after, thanks to a conversation he had with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in May that year. In their conversation, Putin compared Guiadó to Hillary Clinton, in what Bolton called a “brilliant display of Soviet-style propaganda.” 

And just last week, Trump was asked once again about recognizing Guiadó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. This time, his response shifted. 

“Guaidó was elected. I think that I wasn’t necessarily in favor, but I said — some people that liked it, some people didn’t,” he flip-flopped. “I was OK with it. I don’t think it was — you know, I don’t think it was very meaningful one way or the other.” 

“He thought Guaidó was ‘weak,’ as opposed to Maduro, who was ‘strong,’” Bolton’s book states. 

But there’s another issue other than Trump’s relationship with Maduro: Trump has been funded by the Venezuelan government, and is now he is using confiscated funds from the Maduro regime to pay for Mexico’s border wall.

In 2017, it was reported by the Federal Election Commission that Citgo, a state-owned company of the Venezuelan government, donated $500,000 to Trump’s inaugural committee. How can you be a self-proclaimed anti-socialist, but accept half a million dollars as a gift from a socialist company in a socialist state?

And then there are the robbed funds. In 2019, the V.E.R.D.A.D. act was passed in Venezuela. This act includes a proposition stating that confiscated, illegal money from the country’s corrupt politicians “should establish a managed fund to hold the assets identified pursuant to subsection that could be returned to a future democratic government in Venezuela”—meaning that the government should return illegally obtained funds from Maduro’s authoritarian regime to a new, democratically elected one.

However, there is currently a legal dispute over Venezuelan funds, as obtained Venezuelan money is instead being used to fund Mexico’s border wall as well as law enforcement investigations. 

Michael Camilleri, Director of the Inter-American Dialogue has stated that “Even if you could recover a small fraction of this money you would be looking at a far greater sum than the total humanitarian assistance that the international community has been able to muster up for Venezuela.” 

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade representative Donna Shalala (D) took to twitter to give her thoughts on the looted funds.

“The Trump administration may have used $600 million in assets seized from Maduro & his thugs to pay for his border wall,” she said. “This stolen money belongs to the Venezuelan people! It should be used to restore democracy—not further a xenophobic agenda.”

Unfortunately, It’s very clear that Latinos must come to the reality that Trump’s promise for Venezuelan aid was just a farce. Venezuela needed help three years ago and still does now—but until what point must we endure Trump for him to complete his promise?

Featured image from FIU Flickr.


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