Trump threatens to deport Venezuelan military officials’ families that have fled to Miami

The Trump administration is threatening to deport the family members of Venezuelan military officials — including some who live in the Miami area — who don’t disobey the Maduro government and allow aid from the United States to enter Venezuela.

A senior administration official told a small group of reporters Friday that the administration has collected data on military leaders who have family that have left Venezuela. They are living in Miami, the Caribbean and across the hemisphere. According to the administration, they’re living lives of luxury while their countrymen suffer.

“We will no longer tolerate that double standard,” a senior administration official said. “They face a situation where they and their families will have to go back to Venezuela… They will have to go back and live in the misery that they’re imposing.”

The official did not give the names of the military officers who have families in the U.S., or how many family members would be affected.

Venezuela’s interim president, Juan Guaidó, has called on followers to surround military bases on Saturday and demand that the military allow aid into the country.

The official said the administration is “optimistic” the military would allow the humanitarian aid into the country without resorting to violence. But he warned that the United States and its allies had more financial sanctions to use against the Caracas government should people be hurt or if the aid is blocked.

The administration noted that it hoped more military officials will follow the lead of Hugo Carvajal, the former military-intelligence chief, who pledged support for Guaidó. The United States would not say whether Carvajal would be released from sanctions that are in place against him.

Two people have already been killed Friday in a confrontation between a group of civilians and Venezuelan forces on the border with Brazil, officials said.

The United States has stockpiled aid on the Colombian border and lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have described Feb. 23 as the day when the Venezuelan military, which is currently under Nicolás Maduro’s control, must decide whether or not to allow aid to reach those who need it most.

The senior administration official said the U.S. government is also working with allies to block family members from remaining in those countries as well.

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Franco Ordoñez is a White House correspondent for the McClatchy Washington Bureau with a focus on immigration and foreign affairs. He previously covered Latin American affairs for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He moved to Washington in 2011 after six years at the Charlotte Observer covering immigration and working on investigative projects for The Charlotte Observer.
Alex Daugherty is the Washington correspondent for the Miami Herald, covering South Florida from the nation’s capital. Previously, he worked as the Washington correspondent for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and for the Herald covering politics in Miami.