From Washington he traveled to Miami: the heart of the Venezuelan exile community in the United States. He came to Florida International University, an event, organized by the rector Mark Ronsenberg, and The White House, to deal with a single topic: Venezuela.
It was a historic event. The president of the United States, Donald Trump, spoke for half an hour about the crisis that the Latin American country has suffered. Today the Venezuelan people are held hostage by the dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro.
Never has Venezuela occupied such an important space on the agenda of the most powerful man in the world. And it was an undeniable ratification of the commitment of the United States to the Venezuelan cause. “For the first time you see that this is coming to an end. You can see it,” Trump said, with certainty. It is based on a simple fact: “Because the United States supports Venezuelans.”
Trump began his speech saying that “good days for the region” are on the horizon. He led the conversation towards a denunciation of socialism. A denunciation with a wink of optimism: “It’s coming. In Venezuela and across the Western Hemisphere, socialism is dying, and liberty, prosperity, and democracy are being reborn.”
“They’re finally going to be free,” he claimed. “Years of socialism led this rich nation to ruin. There it is now. The socialist tyranny nationalized private enterprise, confiscated private property, eliminated the free market, cheated in elections, destroyed the rule of law, and persecuted its opponents.”
Perhaps the most moving moment of the speech – and, also, symbolic and important – was when Donald Trump mentioned the mother of Inspector Óscar Pérez – who in June 2017 rebelled against Nicolás Maduro and, almost seven months later, in January 2018 was murdered by the state security forces despite the fact that he had surrendered publicly. Anita Pérez went up to the platform next to Trump and, between tears, said: “Today, another of my children, who was also killed, it was his birthday.” She thanked Trump. She asked for humanitarian aid and “justice” for Óscar Pérez.
The president applauded. “Oscar gave his life for the freedom of his people. Oscar will not have died in vain,” he said.
Everyone, standing, cheered the historic moment. It was the first time that inspector Óscar Pérez was vindicated in that way. It was the first time that his mother, Anita, had climbed onto a stage. And it was Trump who did it. It did not happen in Venezuela. It was in the United States.
Trump continued the speech, wading into an ideological debate: “The twilight of socialism has reached our region. And in many other places as well…In Nicaragua and in Cuba…Our country will never be socialist. Never.” It was a political maneuver, of course, but very pertinent. Especially when in the United States the discourse shared by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others who identify with what Trump points to as the cause of the Venezuelan tragedy.”
The speech by the president of the United States was hard. Very hard. Perhaps the strongest moment was when he strongly called out the Venezuelan military: “Today I have a message for every officer who helps Maduro: the eyes of the world are upon you. They can not evade the dilemma they now have in front of them.”
“We want a peaceful transition, but all options are on the table. We want to rescue democracy and we believe that the military has a primordial role to play in helping with that. They have an opportunity. You can collaborate with that or you can choose the latter. And if they decide to continue supporting Maduro, they will not find an easy way out. They will not be able to escape, they will not be able to hide. They will lose everything.”
He categorized Maduro as the “puppet of Cuba. That’s what he is,” he said, “and remember that millions of dollars were paid to Cuba for their support; but no more. Because they no longer have money. Things are changing, and they are changing fast.”
Donald Trump made reference to what his security adviser, John Bolton, has called the “troika of tyranny”: Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. He insisted that, once democracy is restored to Venezuela, the days are numbered for the regimes of Ortega and Castro.
“When Venezuela is free, Cuba is free, Nicaragua is free, we are going to be the freest hemisphere in the history of humanity.”
Trump has confirmed his commitment to the Latin American people. It is clear that this is a problem that transcends the borders of Venezuela. The president framed it perfectly. He knows all too well that it has been the resources of the Venezuelan people which have been stolen to finance the expansion of the project that today is reduced to a mere troika in the region.
Once the “pink tide” was riding high in the region; those days are no more.