Marco Rubio gave a televised address broadcast throughout Venezuela on Globovisión on Monday to express solidarity with the Venezuelan people following a sham election designed to tighten socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro’s grip on power.
“In this struggle, know neither we nor you are alone. Since last night’s fraudulent exercise, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and other nations from across the world have joined in announcing they do not recognize this constituent assembly,” he said in his Spanish-language address.
“Ultimately, the way out of the tragedy before you is not violence or armed conflict. Venezuela is only a free and fair election away from a better future … For Nicolás Maduro, who I am sure is watching, the current path you are on will not end well for you.”
“My closing message to you is this. You are not alone,” he added.
Rubio’s comments follow Sunday’s sham election in Venezuela, designed to consolidate his authority through the creation of a parallel legislature referred to as a “constituent assembly,” which will usurp the power of lawmakers and rewrite the country’s constitution.
Despite an estimated turnout of 15 percent, Maduro claimed victory, hailing the poll as “the biggest vote the Bolivarian revolution has ever had in all 18-year electoral history,” while arguing that the result would bring “reconciliation and peace” to the crisis-stricken country.
The day was also marred by violence as 16 people, including a candidate and two teenagers, were killed amidst escalating tensions, while police arrested 100 people.
Responding to the election, the Trump administration placed personal sanctions on Maduro by freezing assets, banning travel, and prohibiting Americans from dealing with him. Similar measures were taken against 13 senior Venezuelan officials last month on grounds of human rights abuses, corruption, and undermining democracy.
Administration officials are still considering what sanctions to place on the regime as a whole, although they are likely to target Venezuela’s oil industry, which represents 95 percent of the country’s total exports.
Last week, Rubio, who has become the most prominent Congressional voice against the regime, suggested that the Venezuela crisis was a “personal priority” for President Donald Trump.
“We’re grateful to the president and to this administration for their strong commitment to this cause, as we saw earlier this week that they implemented additional sanctions. The president from his earliest days in office has proven this time and again by taking important action,” he said.
Following the result of an unofficial referendum this month where an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans rejected Maduro’s plan to create a “constituent assembly,” Trump warned that the United States would “not stand by as Venezuela crumbles” and would impose “strong and swift economic actions” should the assembly be created.
“Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law. Yet their strong and courageous actions continue to be ignored by a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator,” Trump said in a statement.