In a historic march to regain control of their country, which was once the most prosperous nation in South America, Venezuelans bravely and peacefully took to the streets in hopes of reclaiming their homeland from the violent tyranny that is choking the country.
Hugo Chávez instituted the systematic oppression of Venezuelans paving a socialist path that is sadly all too familiar in our hemisphere. Incredibly, the situation worsened when Nicolás Maduro assumed control of the government, leading to an unprecedented increase in poverty and violence. The murder rate rose sky-high. Many records have been broken, unfortunately, all bad with record unemployment and food and medical shortages, to name just a few.
The Maduro regime plundered the wealth of the nation for personal gain; he and his cronies have enriched themselves beyond belief, while the Venezuelan economy collapsed leaving many families in poverty.
Police ensured that Venezuelan jails were filled with political dissenters. As a result, millions have fled to neighboring countries and the United States.
As the daughter of immigrant parents who fled Fidel Castro’s communist rule in the 1960s, Venezuela’s fight to restore democracy and civil rights is one I know all too well.
Peace and prosperity are not a logical outcomes of repression and political violence. A nation cannot flourish without the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Just like the people of Cuba, Venezuelans deserve better.
Time and time again, the people of Venezuela have demonstrated their courage and defiance of tyranny.
In the Jan. 23 demonstration, Venezuela’s denunciation of the Maduro regime was heard loud and clear. Most important, the widespread support for a young leader, elected president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, found the popular support necessary to forge a new path forward to restore the country to its former glory.
In solidarity, President Trump took an important step in recognizing Juan Guaidó, the highest ranking and legitimately elected leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s interim president. Many other nations, including Canada, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, have followed suit.
This follows many sanctions that the United States has imposed against Maduro and his thugs, while avoiding any additional pain or burden toward the Venezuelan people. Most U.S. sanctions target PDVSA, the state-owned oil company, sending an even stronger message to Maduro that enough is enough.
As an American, I applaud and admire the people of Venezuela in their pursuit to reclaim control over their country. We have not only a shared geography, but a shared history and values, as well.
It is as if they were borrowing a page from our own Declaration of Independence, which clearly states: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles.”
It is this premise that drives the Venezuelan people — that government derives its power from the consent of the governed and they from our Creator.
I am confident that because they are driven by this premise, the people of Venezuela will most certainly prevail. They should know that they can count on the support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and me in their pursuit of long-lasting freedom.
Jeanette Nuñez is the first Hispanic woman to be elected lieutenant governor of the state of Florida and a former representative in the Florida House.