As tons of humanitarian aid approaches Venezuelan borders, President Donald Trump came to Florida International University on Monday and warned loyalists to President Nicolas Maduro, whose election is disputed, about the consequences of blocking it.
Trump addressed the Venezuelan community and others in a speech given at the university’s Ocean Bank Center.
A video of Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó was played before Trump took the stage at about 4:40 pm. Guaidó thanked Trump and the United States for supporting Venezuela’s democracy.
“The moment is now for change in Venezuela with determination and pressure from within Venezuela,” he said in the video. “With a peaceful mobilization and international cooperation, it will allow Venezuela to become free and a friend of everyone in the region.”
Trump started the speech by thanking the Venezuelan exile community and FIU’s President Mark Rosenberg for hosting the event.
One attendee, lawyer Ronald Marcano, said he felt thankful toward the United States for his and thousands of Venezuelans’ safety. Marcano is a political refugee in the United States who was persecuted by Maduro’s regime, leading him to flee the country.
“Dissenting with the government is not a crime,” he said. “Only in dictatorships is a crime.”
Trump’s statement that the people of Venezuela will be free at last was followed by the attendees chanting “U.S.A.”
“The people of Venezuela stand at the threshold of history,” he said. “Ready to reclaim their country and ready to reclaim their future.”
Trump gave an anti-socialist speech, stating how it has brought Venezuela to “the brink of ruin” and how the same ideology has only brought “catastrophic” results around the world.
Trump introduced Ana Perez, the mother of Oscar Perez, the Venezuelan rebel who was assassinated by Nicolas Maduro’s regime. When Ana Perez took the stage, the audience started chanting “Que viva Oscar Perez, que viva!”
“I’m here as a U.S. resident seeking humanitarian aid and justice,” she said. “We are going to continue this fight until we see a free Venezuela and we’re able to return to our motherland.”
Trump continued to tell the audience that the days of socialism are numbered, “not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and Cuba as well.”
Elizabeth Barquero, a Nicaraguan Trump supporter, heard the speech outside of the convention center. She admires Trump’s stance against socialism.
“We want Trump for four more years,” she said. “So that Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela [socialist dictatorships] fall as well.”
Trump addressed the Venezuelan military by reminding them their best option is to accept Interim President’s Juan Guaidó’s amnesty offer instead of following Nicolas Maduro’s orders to block the humanitarian aid.
“We seek a peaceful transition of power but all options are open,” he said.
He added if the military opts for the latter option they’ll find “no way out” and “they would lose everything.”
Trump asked every member of Maduro’s regime to end the nightmare of poverty, hunger and death for the Venezuelan people. “Let your people go, set your country free,” he said.
The political relationship between Venezuela and Cuba was brought up by the president. He charged Maduro is a “Cuban puppet.”
“The ugly alliance between the two dictatorships is coming to a rapid end,” he said. “A new future is beginning.”
During the speech the president assured the audience the U.S. won’t become a socialist nation. This was followed by loud cheers and audience members waving “Make America Great Again!” hats in the air. He continued, “We will stay free, now and forever.”
There were protestors and supporters outside the convention center. One protestor, Adelita Bedce, held a sign that said “Humpty Trumpty had a great fall from his racist border wall.” Bedce thinks Trump’s intention in Venezuela has more to with oil acquisition.
“I don’t think it has to do with the people or for the benefit of anyone but himself,” she said.
The president ended the speech on a hopeful note.
“When Venezuela is free, and Cuba is free and Nicaragua is free,” he said “This will become the first hemisphere in all of human history [to be free].”
Ironically, the speech was followed by the Rolling Stones’ song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” as people left the convention center.