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Backroom Briefing: All Eyes on Venezuela

May 2, 2019 - 10:30am
Rick Scott
Rick Scott

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has become a big booster of putting U.S. military might behind efforts to topple embattled President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

But as Scott says President Donald Trump needs to “pre-position” military assets around the South American nation, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Scott’s successor in the Florida governor’s mansion, appears to be taking a more-measured approach in his support for replacing Maduro with opposition leader Juan Guaido.

“I want to stand for freedom, but some of that stuff can be touchy … if you look at it, Guaido is fighting on behalf of the people against a colonial force, because Maduro is propped up by Castro, the Castro regime, by the Cubans,” DeSantis told reporters on Wednesday. “The more we get involved overtly, that may mean the population has a tougher decision.”

“What I want to do,” DeSantis continued. “Give whatever support we can, but obviously we would want it to be where the population is decisively swinging behind Juan Guaido and then the military, although some of them have gotten in line with that, the rest of the military realizes that Maduro is not the way of the future.”

DeSantis on Tuesday received an update on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela from Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton.

Along with DeSantis, Florida lawmakers are taking stances on behalf of the “people of Venezuela” and against Maduro.

Early Wednesday, the state House adopted a non-binding memorial (SM 804) that declared the Maduro regime “illegitimate” and urged Congress to “instruct appropriate federal agencies to hold Nicolas Maduro and officials of the Government of Venezuela accountable for violations of law and abuses of internationally recognized human rights.”

The Senate adopted the same measure last Friday.

Sen. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, and Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, were the sponsors of the memorial.

On March 14, the Senate unanimously supported a resolution titled “Venezuela/Juan Guaido” by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, that expressed “solidarity with the people of Venezuela in their pursuit of a strong and stable democratic government.”


State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis had never been a believer in customized rubber wristbands.

“I never thought these would have any meaning,” Patronis said.

But in the past few months, his right wrist has been filling up.

A pink one is because of his wife, Katie, a breast cancer survivor. A blue and red wristband marks a bill that would expand benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with 21 types of cancer. A green wristband says Mexico Beach. It’s been on his wrist since DeSantis made a trip to hurricane-battered Northwest Florida a day after his inaugural in January.

“We were sitting in the Mexico Beach City Hall, it’s in shambles, we’re sitting in the city manager’s office, me and the mayor, and they started passing them out,” said Patronis, who is from nearby Panama City. “I haven’t taken them off since. I’d feel guilty if I take it off.”


Months after Hurricane Michael ravaged parts of Northwest Florida, Panama City officials called out state lawmakers and Congress to adequately fund disaster relief.

The appeal was made in a 2 ½-minute video released over the weekend that highlights successful recovery efforts while expressing the agonizing wait for assistance that has stretched to 200 days.

The Oct. 10 storm that crippled much of Bay County left behind massive amounts of debris, created a housing crisis and displaced thousands of students, Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said as the video offers a tour of the community.

“We know that we need help from Tallahassee and Washington,” Brudnicki says as he wraps up the video. “With your help we can rebuild Panama City bigger, better and stronger. Thank you.”


Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers was in the Capitol on Monday with a pitch to the governor --- a baseball fan --- to help strike out child abduction and sexual exploitation.

Fingers, whose mustache was perhaps the most colorful in major-league baseball, was the 1974 World Series MVP and the American League regular season Cy Young winner and MVP in 1981.

Fingers’ appearance in the governor’s office was as national spokesman for KinderVision, which seeks to empower children and teens to “shut out sexual predators.”

“Gov. DeSantis and the First Lady are very interested in finding new ways to combat child sex trafficking in Florida,” said Helen Ferre, a DeSantis spokeswoman.

Fingers has been with KinderVision since its founding in 1990, following the abduction and murder of a 7-year-old girl in Oceanside, Calif.

Fingers is responsible for the KinderVision motto: “When it comes to kids, The Greatest Save is the one we never have to make.”

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “Maybe @JebBush is here to talk some sense into his party on SB 168.” --- Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, (@CarlosGSmith) referring to a controversial bill about so-called sanctuary cities. Former Gov. Jeb Bush was on the House floor this week as lawmakers passed a bill that would create a new school-vouchers program.


All about the oil. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the U.S. has their eyes on it. They couldn't succeed on taking Syria's oil, so now they are wanting Venezuela's oil.

Insane conclusion, given that the USA is a net energy exporter.

Neocons, neocons, neocons! The clowns got us in a fine kettle of fish with Bush and his invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan ... and nincompoop Bolton is doing it again. (Naturally, quick buck artist and almost con(vict) Scott would go for it!)

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