Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart

Representing the 25th District of FLORIDA

Diaz-Balart Commends President Trump and Vice President Pence for their Continued Support for a Free and Democratic Venezuela

Aug 25, 2017
Press Release


Diaz-Balart Commends President Trump and Vice President Pence for their Continued Support for a Free and Democratic Venezuela


MIAMI – Today as Vice President Pence addressed the Venezuelan exile community in Doral, Florida, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart delivered the following statement.

As prepared for delivery: 

“I am honored to be here today with Father Israel Mago of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Church and many others to meet with Vice President Pence, who recently finished a trip to key countries in our hemisphere, and talk about the ongoing assault on democracy and the continued repression of the Venezuelan people.


Among those who have been imprisoned for their political views is Wuilly Arteaga, a courageous young violinist and activist.


I had the honor of meeting Wuilly.  Since then, Wuilly has been beaten and arrested simply for his musical protests against the Maduro regime.  With his defiant renditions of Venezuela’s national anthem, ringing out in the midst of brutality perpetrated by Maduro’s thugs, Wuilly has become one more symbol of the protest movement which persists despite Maduro’s escalating repression.


Many of those imprisoned have attested to beatings, inhumane conditions, and even torture at the hands of Maduro’s thugs.  Many have been falsely accused of crimes, and others are being held despite a court order that they be released.


Let it be clear that the Trump Administration—I repeat, the Trump Administration—and the US Congress stand with the Venezuelan people, including its courageous activists, opposition leaders, political prisoners and their families, the doctors and nurses who have demanded access to basic medicines for their patients, and others who have risked everything to achieve a democratic Venezuela.


We must also remember those who have died at the hands of Maduro’s thugs, more than 120 people since the protests began in April of this year. But this violence is not new.  Genesis Carmona, the daughter of my constituent Maria Eugenia Tovar, was killed during protests in 2014.  The Chavez-Maduro legacy is one of repression and brutality.


Even opposition members of the democratically-elected National Assembly, which Maduro has attempted to supplant with the sham “Constituent Assembly,” were violently attacked on Venezuela’s independence day leaving several injured.  Opposition members of the National Assembly have faced reprisals for attempting to lawfully represent those Venezuelans who elected them.


The Trump administration, represented today by our dear friend Vice President Pence, must be commended for imposing tough sanctions on those who have plunged Venezuela into chaos. The administration took the bold step of personally sanctioning Nicolas Maduro, making him one of only four heads of state to be directly sanctioned by the United States.   So now, Maduro stands in the company of the world’s most infamous pariahs -- Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.


We also know that the Castro regime has sent operatives to assist with the Maduro campaign of repression, within various levels of government and the security services. As Mary Anastasia O’Grady has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Castro regime “has embedded a Soviet-style security apparatus” in Venezuela. And earlier this month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo affirmed that state actors including the Castro regime were operating in Venezuela. 


Some say we should treat the Maduro and Castro regimes like legitimate governments, since the Cold War is over.  However, we all know that both the Venezuelan and Cuban people continue to suffer under the hot iron of repression


For our outspoken support of pro-democracy activists, and our opposition to human rights abuses, repression, and corruption in Venezuela, Maduro labeled me and some of my colleagues “terrorists” and has forbidden us from entering the country. 


I take that as a badge of honor.  We don’t need to be in Venezuela to condemn the beatings, arbitrary arrests, torture, and countless other abuses.  Make no mistake, those criminals who have beaten, tortured, and killed innocent protesters on behalf of a brutal dictatorship will be held accountable for their crimes.


Así que mientras la administración de Obama se sentó con Diosdado Cabello, y Maduro está con Assad, Kim Jong-un, Mugabe, y el paria de nuestro hemisferio, Castro, yo estoy con:

• el pueblo venezolano, incluidos los valientes activistas, los presos políticos y los que siguen arriesgando todo por una Venezuela libre,


• la administración Trump, que en tan sólo ocho meses ha impuesto cuatro rondas de sanciones contra los corruptos de Maduro,


• el Secretario General de la OEA, quien dijo textualmente que "el gobierno de Venezuela tiene sangre en sus manos y debe ser responsabilizado por eso";


• Mis colegas en el Congreso, que en 2014 Y 2016 aprobaron la legislación impulsada por Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio y Bob Menéndez, para imponer fuertes sanciones contra el régimen de Maduro. También debemos agradecer a Carlos Curbelo su inquebrantable apoyo.


• Y la comunidad de venezolanos en el exilio en el sur de Florida, quienes nos recuerdan siempre que nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Venezuela están luchando por la libertad.


Me siento honrado de estar aquí con usted, Vicepresidente Pence. Has sido un firme defensor de los valores de EEUU, incluyendo nuestro compromiso con la democracia, y con tantos otros amigos de la heroica comunidad venezolana, trabajaremos juntos hasta que Venezuela sea libre.”