Pence speaks about unrest in Venezuela during Doral visit
Vice president joined by Gov. Rick Scott, other lawmakers
DORAL, Fla. – Vice President Mike Pence met with members of the Venezuelan exile community Wednesday in Doral.
The vice president met with recent Venezuelan migrants and local leaders about the unrest in the South American country.
He was joined at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church by Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida.
"The president sent me here as he sent me to Latin America last week with a very simple message for all of you and for the people of Venezuela," Pence told the crowd. "We are with you and we will stand with you until democracy is restored in Venezuela."
The vice president first make a stop at the U.S. Southern Command in South Florida.
Pence received a briefing there at 12:30 p.m. and then did a small meet and greet with service members before heading to Doral.
"As the president said, we will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles," Pence told those who gathered at the church.
Rubio also has strong words about the crisis Venezuela.
"This is a humanitarian and political crisis," Rubio said. "A humanitarian crisis created by a failed, incompetent regime that has taken one of the richest countries in the world and destroyed its economy."
Joining hands in prayer for Venezuela, groups of people gathered Wednesday morning outside Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church ahead of the vice president’s arrival.
"I am really sad what is happening nowadays, how the government can do with the people and the citizens," Venezuelan immigrant Maria Fuentes said.
Fuentes didn't get to meet the vice president, because the event is invitation only, but she said she had to be at least outside the church because her nephew was shot and killed earlier this month while protesting in Venezuela.
"He just turned 19 in May, so he stayed and he believed in freedom and democracy like so many of the teenagers, and it's very difficult," Fuentes said. "I have to support him, his memory. That's why I'm here."
Pence met with Venezuelan exiles, recent migrants and other local leaders about the ongoing unrest there before giving remarks.
"Communism and socialism is like cancer. You can't just take a little bit out, you got to strip the whole thing out, and if you leave it there, it keeps fermenting and fermenting," Ignacio Yanes, who was invited to attend the event, said.
Pence spent last week touring Latin America to win over allies unnerved by a possible U.S. military intervention in the socialist nation.
President Donald Trump's explosive remarks earlier this month that he would not rule out a "military option" in Venezuela came two days before Pence had previously scheduled his Latin America tour.
The vice president traveled to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama to rally friends in the hemisphere, but switched to damage control in a region scarred by past U.S. invasions.
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