Venezuelan exiles in Miami have urged Vice President Mike Pence to lobby the administration to provide migratory permits to Venezuelans fleeing their country in fear of political persecution.
The Organization of Persecuted Venezuelan Politicians (VEPPEX) sent a letter to Pence on Wednesday asking for “urgent migratory relief” to politically persecuted Venezuelans, as well as additional sanctions against socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and members of the country’s opposition “financed by the regime’s collaborators.”
Jose Antonio Colina, president of VEPPEX, also warned that, should the U.S. reject Venezuelan asylum applications and be deported to their home country, they would effectively face a “death sentence” at the hands of the regime.
VEPPEX sent the letter hours before Pence addressed a crowd of Venezuelans at a church in the city Doral, South Florida, to discuss the ongoing political and humanitarian in the Latin American country. During the speech, he also hinted further sanctions against the Maduro regime.
“Our resolve is unwavering; our conviction is clear” Pence declared. “You may be assured: Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, the United States of America will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”
“We hear you, we stand with you. We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” he added.
Following Maduro’s decision to create an illegal alternate legislature, the “national constituent assembly” (ANC), designed to consolidate his authority, the Trump administration placed personal sanctions on Maduro as well as similar measures were taken against 13 senior Venezuelan officials on grounds of human rights abuses, corruption, and undermining democracy.
The crisis in Venezuela has now reached a breaking point, with millions of people living in abject poverty as a result of skyrocketing rates of inflation that have left the country with chronic shortages of food, medicine, electricity, and sanitary products.
Pence’s speech followed the completion of his tour around Latin America, visiting countries including Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Panama to discuss the region’s response to the crisis.
His words also echo those of President Trump, who previously suggested that he was considering a military solution to the crisis.
“Venezuela is a mess, it is very dangerous mess, and a very sad situation,” Trump told reporters. “We have many options for Venezuela, I’m not ruling out military options.”
However, Pence chose to downplay these remarks, stating, “While President Trump has said that ‘We have many options for Venezuela,’ we remain confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America, we can achieve a peaceable solution to the crisis facing the Venezuelan people.”