WASHINGTON — The Trump Administration is stepping up efforts to oust disputed Venezuelan President Nikolas Maduro, imposing a full economic embargo on the regime.
- Sanctions ban U.S. companies from doing business with Maduro regime
- Stops short of being full trade embargo
- Florida lawmakers working to get TPS for Venezuelan refugees
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The action is a significant escalation of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, banning U.S. companies and individuals from doing business with Maduro’s government and freezing all government assets.
“It’s a catastrophic situation, it’s a dictatorship, we don’t even recognize the government there,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in an interview with Spectrum News.
Both Florida senators, who represent the largest Venezuelan population in the country, are applauding the move, which further isolates the regime.
The United States and most western democracies have called for Maduro to step down, and have recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader.
“We’ve got to recognize the importance of this,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida). “We’ve got to figure out how get Maduro out of there and bring in a democracy.”
The only exemptions for the new embargo are U.S. government business and humanitarian aid. The executive order also excludes Venezuela’s private sector, stopping short of a full U.S. trade embargo like the one that is currently on Cuba.
The latest action is designed to send a strong message to countries who are still backing Maduro.
“Cuba, Russia, China, Iran, they are all accomplices to murder,” Scott said.
These new sanctions come as lawmakers continue to look for ways to extend temporary protected status to Venezuelans already in the U.S., even though the Senate failed to advance bipartisan legislation passed by the House.
“We need to look at these issues in a human and compassionate way,” said Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Florida).
A major hurdle preventing this legislation from passing is some conservative Republicans and White House officials, who are wary of extending a program they are trying to end for other countries like Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
“The dehumanizing of immigrants that is happening in this administration and that my Republican colleagues are following is very dangerous,” Mucarsel-Powell explained.
Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott say they will continue to work with the administration to chart a path forward.
“I’ve been asking the White House for TPS for Venezuelans for quite a while,” said Scott.
"There’s a variety of bills, I’m looking at those or doing something on my own separately to try to get something that will pass,” he added.