WESTON, Fla. – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Venezuelan leaders Thursday in Weston, a Broward County community known as Dorazuela for its large population of Venezuelan migrants.
Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Donna Shalala and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Carlos Vecchio, Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S. for Juan Guaidó's interim government, also attended the meeting at the Bonaventure Town Center Club.
"This is a regime that is killing its own people, starving its own people, taking away their very basic needs for survival," Mucarsel-Powell said. "And it is extremely important to work together, in a unified manner, with our allies to put pressure on Russia, to put pressure on Cuba, so that we get Maduro out."
Vecchio told the Democratic women there is a need for U.S. action, as Cuba continues to help Nicolás Maduro's administration to violate the human rights of Venezuelans and Maduro is continuing to allow Russia to have access to Venezuela's resources.
"I have had my eye on the situation in Venezuela for a while," Pelosi said.
During a Medicare executive order event Thursday at the Villages, President Donald Trump said his administration is "watching" Cuba and Venezuela.
Trump also accused the Democrats of wanting to give away Medicare to migrants. Shalala said Trump's anti-immigration stance, which includes an opposition to temporary protected status for Venezuelans, is because "he doesn't like immigrants. He doesn't like brown people. He doesn't like black people. He doesn't like people that come from Latin America."
The Venezuelan activists all agreed that there is a refugee crisis that requires more international involvement. Liz Alarcón, the founder of Project Pulso, a digital organization aiming to connect Latin Americans in the U.S., was among the roundtable's guests.
"There is a growing number of Venezuelan Democrats who are much more interested in bipartisan action than this contingency," Alarcón said, adding that there is a need to have a "direct line of communication with other members of the House."
Maria Eugenia Pardo, spokesperson for Vente Venezuela, a center-right political party in Venezuela, said she fears the presence of a divided FARC, Colombia's leftist guerrilla, and members of Hezbollah, a militant Shi'ite Muslim group, in Venezuela.
"We are fighting against a criminal state," Pardo said. "It's not just Cuba or Russia. It's China and Iran."
Pelosi is attending a roundtable discussion Thursday evening in Miami's Little Haiti with U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., on the need for a temporary protected status for Haitians.
This is a developing story.