It was a very particular Saturday afternoon in Miami. Listening to música llanera and singing the “Star Spangled Banner” right before the “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo,” the Venezuelan diaspora and some United States politicians received Venezuelan Caretaker President Juan Guaidó at the Miami Airport Convention Center.
“Today, this is Venezuela, this is home,” the Caretaker President told the crowd, in Spanish. “With the hope intact to return.” Guaidó called for union and hope among the diaspora and reassured them that the international community is behind his efforts to take Maduro out of power. He also called for freedom not only in Venezuela but also in Cuba and Nicaragua.
His tour started on January 19th in Bogotá, Colombia, where he met with Colombian President Ivan Duque and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and in a summit on terrorism talked about Hizbollah cells in Venezuela. Days after, he met with five European leaders: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurtz, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and French President Emmanuel Macron. In Davos, at the World Economic Forum, Guaidó talked about rebuilding our country. Not bad for a man who has spent a year claiming the presidency with the Constitution at his side but not the power of the guns.
In his next stop, Madrid, things started to look less stellar, when President Pedro Sánchez, now ruling in coalition with Unidas Podemos (a party with close ties to chavismo), refused to see Guaidó. The Caretaker President made, however, a good photo with a crowd in Plaza Sol, and flew to Ottawa, where he met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his foreign minister, and the vice-premier Crysthia Freeland, who as foreign minister was one of the more ardent supporters of the Venezuelan cause by co-founding the Lima Group. At this moment, the question was whether the journey would end in the White House, meeting Donald Trump. That did not happen, but when this rally in Miami was announced, close to the airport, and was later known that the American President was in Florida, some started to wonder if Trump would make a surprise appearance.
Now, the question is why Trump did not see Guaidó －or if the Venezuelan leader will be able to meet him before leaving the U.S. We know why Pedro Sánchez avoided him. What are Trump’s reasons?
Guaidó said he will go back to Venezuela “in the next few days” and Bloomberg reported that he also met with Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Saturday before the event.
During Guaidó’s speech, many yelled asking for military intervention and zero dialogue to end Maduro’s regime, but he maintained his call for peaceful demonstrations once he returns to Venezuela. “I hope Guaidó doesn’t do more dialogue,” said attendee Francis Parada, in Spanish.
I hope Guaidó goes see President Trump and that several countries come together for freedom in Venezuela
Meanwhile, President Trump played golf at his country club in Palm Beach, a one-hour drive away from the convention center.
But U.S. support for Guaidó wasn’t absent. A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers welcomed him on the stage: Democratic Representatives Donna Shalala, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart; and Republican Senator Rick Scott, former Florida governor. Each legislator affirmed his or her support for freedom in Venezuela and Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, the proposed law that would protect Venezuelans from deportation.
The only one who didn’t mention TPS was Scott, even though the public chanted during his speech for him to support the bill －which passed the House of Representatives in July but has stalled in the Senate.
What Scott did mention was President Trump’s support for Venezuela over the last year. “Thank you to President Trump for recognizing Juan Guaido,” he said, in Spanish. “I’ve come to talk about Trump, that he’s done everything possible to help Venezuela; to ensure that Maduro gets out of power.”
Before the event, three women stood in front of the convention center with posters calling Guaidó an estafador, or swindler, and a socialist. People in line told them to “go to Venezuela and Cuba” and asked them how much the Maduro regime had paid them for showing up at the event.