MIAMI – Opposition leader Juan Guaidó's envoy to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, said Friday that President Joe Biden took a very important step when he granted Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans.
Vecchio said that with TPS Biden is making a statement to condemn Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez as the leader of the socialist Bolivarian Revolution in 2013.
Maduro has blamed Venezuelan poverty on U.S. sanctions on the state-run oil company. Guaidó blames failed socialist policies and repression for pushing the once-prosperous democracy into a humanitarian crisis.
“The main problem of Venezuela is not the sanctions,” Vecchio said. “The main problem of Venezuela is Maduro.”
China and Russia support Maduro, 58, and his unrelenting attacks to stay in power. U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has said Biden supports Guaidó, 37, as Venezuela’s leader.
Guaidó, whose term expired on Jan. 5, Henrique Capriles, and other opposition leaders have managed to stay out of prison. Vecchio is among the interim government officials who are unable to go back to Venezuela over the fear of becoming political prisoners.
“With this protection now we will be more stable, in order to help us to raise the voice in favor of Venezuela,” Vecchio said. “And to bring more people, congressman, senators and the institution of the United States, to put more pressure to find a political solution in Venezuela.”
The story is familiar to the Cuban exiles who found refuge in South Florida when their efforts to remove Fidel Castro failed.
Meanwhile, Maduro is unable to stabilize the economy, so he announced ambitious plans to move to a fully digital economy. In the streets of Caracas, Venezuelans are mostly relying on the U.S. dollar.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas designated Venezuelans for TPS until September 2022 when it’s likely Biden will grant a renewal of the policy.
“The living conditions in Venezuela reveal a country in turmoil, unable to protect its own citizens,” Mayorkas said in a statement during the announcement.
MORE ABOUT TPS
The temporary protection applies to individuals who can demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since March 8.
The fee for a first-time applicant, age 14 to 65, who is seeking a work permit is $545. The cost includes the $50 TPS fee, the $85 biometrics fee, and the $410 work permit fee.
The fees can be paid online using a credit or debit card, or a bank withdrawal; by mail with a card, check, or money order; or in person at a USCIS field office.
Applicants who can’t afford to pay the fee can include an I-912 request for a fee waiver with each application, and demonstrate their inability to pay.
Those who use the U.S. Postal service in Florida need to mail their applications to the USCIS, Attn: TPS Venezuela, P.O. Box 20300, Phoenix, AZ 85036.
Those using FedEx, UPS, or DHL need to mail them to USCIS, Attn: TPS Venezuela, 1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S., Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85034.
The application period ends on Sept. 5th.
The complete interview with Vecchio will air on This Week In South Florida next Sunday.