MIAMI – From Caracas to Miami, Venezuelans and their Venezuelan-American relatives are eagerly awaiting the U.S. shift in foreign policy that will come next year when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Although President Donald Trump hasn’t granted Venezuelan migrants a Temporary Protected Status and Biden’s immigration policies are more likely to allow a TPS, many Venezuelan-American voters in Miami-Dade sided with Trump.
Emmanuel Rincón is a Venezuelan attorney and author. The Miami-Dade County resident is the managing editor of El American, a bilingual news site that covers Latin American politics. He said Venezuelan-American voters are siding with the Republican Party because Democrats want “big taxes” to set up a “welfare state."
“The Venezuelans know that this doesn’t work,” Rincón said.
In an ad on YouTube that was published about a week before the election, Trump’s campaign claimed that Nicolas Maduro’s supporters were backing Biden. The ad was in line with Trump’s strategy in South Florida of associating Biden, a centrist who does not support socialism, with Chavistas. Despite this, some Venezuelans hope Biden will be the one to help push Chavistas out of power.
“We left Venezuela with the hope of going back one day. I don’t want to be in Miami. I want to be with my family,” said Rosario Martinez said in Spanish. “I just pray that [Biden] will be the one to help us so we can all be in the Venezuela that my grandparents remember. Put [Maduro] in prison.”
The Trump administration accused Maduro of narcotrafficking and set up a $15 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Maduro has the support of China, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Cuba. Under Trump’s sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, the U.S. became the world’s largest producer of crude in 2018. That will likely change with Biden.
Biden has said he wants a path back to diplomacy with OPEC-member Venezuela, which holds the largest oil reserves in the world, but as a centrist, it is highly likely that he will also want Maduro to step down and allow free elections.
“We will work, hopefully, to resume decent, sincere, direct channels of dialogue between the future government of Joe Biden,” Maduro said on Sunday during a televised speech after congratulating Biden on his victory.
The U.S. deemed Maduro’s May 2018 reelection fraudulent. Maduro and Trump ended diplomatic relations in January 2019. Trump recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president. Trump has tightened sanctions against Maduro and his allies. Venezuelans fear Biden won’t recognize Guaidó even though more than 60 other countries do.
Pedro Urruchurtu is the international affairs coordinator for Vente Venezuela, the liberal political party founded by María Corina Machado, a former presidential candidate and former member of Venezuela’s National Assembly.
“Obviously, the interim government should be worried now because a change in U.S. administration could mean that the Maduro regime is no longer treated as a former regime, but as a dictator with whom the U.S. should negotiate,” Urruchurtu said.
Guaidó also congratulated Biden on his victory by saying that he looks forward to working with him “to ensure the restoration of democracy, freedom and human rights for the people of Venezuela.”
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