United States President Donald Trump promised on Friday to “fight” for Venezuela and Cuba during a visit to Florida, a state plagued by the coronavirus, a “plague” that the Republican president once again blamed on China.
“We are going to fight for Venezuela. We will fight for our friends in Cuba, “said Trump at the headquarters of the Southern Command, in charge of US military operations in the Caribbean, Central, and South America.
“Cuba and Venezuela have it very under control,” he assured.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump has reversed the rapprochement between Washington and Havana of his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, tightening the blockade that has governed since 1962 against the island’s communist government, arguing for human rights violations and support for the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, whom he considers a “dictator”.
But despite the economic sanctions against Caracas and a diplomatic proposal to gradually withdraw them in a transition towards “free elections,” Maduro has remained in power with the backing of Cuba, China, and Russia, his main creditors, and lately, from Iran.
“The United States will continue its campaign of maximum pressure on the Maduro regime,” said Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien.
O’Brien said Trump asks “almost every day” what can be done to help the Venezuelan people. “This operation is part of that effort,” he said.
You may also be interested Trump says he will approve immigration reform with an executive order in support of the “Dreamers”
President Maduro, meanwhile, described Trump’s presence in the Southern Command as an “act of electoral campaign” in which “dirty, filthy” and “false” accusations were launched against Venezuela.
“Desperate for the votes, Donald Trump is going to the Southern Command to do a campaign act, let’s not neglect ourselves,” Maduro told the military during a ceremony in Caracas, questioning the statements of O’Brien, who referred to the country. The Caribbean as a ” narco-state “.
Trump, for his part, celebrated the “incredible success” of the vast anti-drug operation launched three months ago in the Caribbean with his sights set on Venezuela, after the US justice system accused Maduro of ” narcoterrorism ” and offered 15 million for him. of reward dollars.
“Venezuela is a narco-state, led by a corrupt, criminal and illegitimate regime, and the people of Venezuela are suffering because of Maduro,” said O’Brien.
After meeting with members of the Cuban and Venezuelan exiles in Doral, Trump highlighted the “historic sanctions” against Caracas and boasted that he had “ended” the “betrayal” of Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden, “with the regime of the Castro ”.
“What they did for Cuba is ridiculous,” said Rosa María Payá, the daughter of the late human rights activist Oswaldo Payá, and Orlando Gutiérrez, a prominent member of Cuban exile in Florida.
There were also Venezuelans Ernesto Ackerman, who asked Trump to “eliminate socialism throughout Latin America,” and Lorenzo Di Stefano, who urged him to “continue to apply more economic pressure” against Maduro.
Smiling, Trump highlighted how “very well” he is doing in the polls in Florida, a crucial pendulum state where every vote counts.
You may also be interested in “He has already suffered a lot”: Trump commutes prison sentence of his friend and adviser Roger Stone
From Havana, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez rejected Trump’s “mendacious statements”, whom he called “poorly advised and attached to failed rhetoric.”
“In his electoral opportunism, he does not explain how the elimination of travel and exchanges, the attack on Cuban families, and the brutal tightening of the blockade help the people of Cuba, ” he tweeted.
Trump traveled to Florida, where Covid-19 has claimed more than 4,000 lives and has recorded an avalanche of cases and record deaths in recent days, ignoring the risks of contagion to boost his campaign.
Biden, who leads him by 5 points in Florida and by 8.8 points nationwide according to the RealClearPolitics average polls, criticized the visit.
“Like his response to this pandemic, the president has been unreliable and self-centered in his approach to issues closest to the Venezuelan people,” he said.
Biden also recalled the president’s remarks three weeks ago of being open to meet with Maduro, whom he calls “dictator.” As Biden anticipated, the topic, which stirred the waters in Florida, did not come up at the roundtable in Doral.
Trump, who is also participating in a fundraising event, again lashed out at China, where the new coronavirus emerged late last year.
“Relations with China were seriously damaged,” he told reporters. “They could have stopped the plague and they didn’t.”
The United States is the country most affected by Covid-19 in the world, with more than 3.1 million infections and 133 thousand deaths.
67% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s response to the coronavirus, according to a survey by ABC News and Ipsos.