PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Venezuelans in South Florida were reacting to President Donald Trump’s Friday commentary on Axios about the possibility of meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Trump has used economic sanctions in his attempt to oust Maduro after deeming his 2018 re-election a fraud and considering Juan Guaido as the oil-rich country’s legitimate president.
Maduro counts on the support of China and Russia. Trump has met with the leaders of both countries.
“I’m never opposed to meetings,” Trump said, adding he has turned Maduro down and he was “OK with” supporting Guaido although he “could have lived with it or without it” because he didn’t think “it was very meaningful one way or the other.”
Ernesto Ackerman, of the Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens, or IVAC, and Eduardo Gamarra, a professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University, both believe the statement is concerning.
“We labeled him a drug trafficker,” Gamarra said about the U.S. policy on Maduro. “We labeled him a human rights violator and everything else. But now we are going to talk to him?”
Ackerman said he supports Trump’s sanctions and policy of increasing the pressure on Maduro and his administration. Trump also said he has turned Maduro’s diplomats away.
“It’s impossible that President Trump would meet with Maduro at this time,” Ackerman said, adding he thinks the commentary is a political distraction.