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  • Vice President Mike Pence looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a Naturalization Ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House.

    Vice President Mike Pence looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a Naturalization Ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 February 2019

Vice President Mike Pence was holding a rally Friday in Florida in support of the Venezuelan opposition, and to garner more voter support among Latinos for Trump's possible re-election.

United States Vice President, Mike Pence and top Florida Republicans are scheduled to hold a rally in Miami, Florida, Friday afternoon to highlight the Trump administration’s aggressive approach to the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela, seemingly in a bid to win over more Hispanic voters in the 2020 presidential election.

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Pence's trip to Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center, Miami, will showcase the administration's efforts to oust Maduro as well as the recognition of opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as “interim president” of Venezuela. The message is expected to resonate with Latino voters in the nation's largest swing state, particularly those who have defected from the country as well as Cuban community in the state, which tends to be majority right-wing people who oppose the Cuban government and other leftist governments in Latin America.

The move could help bolster Donald Trump's chances of garnering votes for the 2020 presidential election as 17 percent of registered voters there are Hispanic, two-thirds of whom are Cuban-American or have roots in Latin American countries, such as Venezuela. 

No Republican presidential candidate has won a presidential term in almost 100 years without winning Florida's electoral college. The state has a track record for tight races.

"It’s very hard to see a scenario where the president gets re-elected without winning Florida," Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who ran former President Barack Obama's campaign in Florida in 2008, told USA Today.

Trump's stance against Maduro's government and his right to power is popular in Florida among Cuban and Venezuelan immigrant populations, more than 1.5 million of the state's roughly 21 million residents. It's also a position favorable with many in the Colombian community -- a group gaining more political significance to candidates in Miami-Dade, the most populous county in the state.

"Although I don't think this is the primary motivation for the (Trump administration's) policy, it is definitely an advantage," Dario Moreno, professor of political science at Florida International University, also told USA Today commenting on the aggressive approach by Trump against Maduro. 

Pence has worked alongside the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, Carlos Trujillo, to lay the groundwork that could see Venezuela expelled from the OAS. 

Venezuela was a key point in Pence’s 2017 and 2018 trips to South and Central America where he met with displaced Venezuelans in Brazil and Colombia, encouraged nearby countries to pressure Maduro’s government, and accused the “dictator” of violently suppressing anyone who questioned him.

Maduro responded by calling Pence a “poisonous viper," USA Today reported.

The United States was quick to recognize Guaido as “interim president” after he proclaimed himself as such on Jan 23, in violation of the country's constitution, and Washington’s right-wing allies in the region followed suit in what the elected Venezuelan government of Maduro calls a parliamentary coup.

Since then, the U.S. has approved fresh sanctions against Caracas including economic sanctions against the country’s national oil company. Several senior U.S. officials called on the country’s military to intervene in support of Guaido. However, the country’s military has asserted its support for the constitutional government and rejected calls for a coup.


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