Two Miami-area Republican lawmakers have filed legislation to prohibit Florida from doing business with companies involved with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, Gov. Rick Scott’s office announced Tuesday.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, and Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, filed joint bills to ban the state from investing in any companies doing business with the Maduro government, a symbolic gesture in fighting back against the country’s oppressive government.
SB 538/HB 359 come on the heels of an announcement Scott made this summer when he threatened to introduce an agenda item before the Trustees of the State Board Administration in August which would prohibit the Sunshine State from doing any business with organizations supporting the Maduro regime.
The SBA eventually voted unanimously to approve Scott’s proposed resolution -- and now it’s headed to the Florida Legislature for another round of approval.
Since being elected president, Maduro’s policies have led to widespread crime and poverty in Venezuela, leading many elected officials to come out in opposition to any policies or businesses supporting the poverty-stricken country’s government.
The situation only seems to grow worse in Venezuela, where high inflation has led to widespread hunger and poverty.
The South American country held regional elections this weekend which were quickly criticized for being “shrouded in fraud.”
Opposition leaders in Venezuela have disputed the elections, where the country’s socialist party swept most of the 23 governorships.
Scott joined in on the criticisms of the election process, calling for “true democracy” and “human rights” as the nation continues to struggle to stay afloat both economically and politically.
“This past Sunday, the will of the Venezuelan people was again suppressed by the oppressive Maduro regime through an untrustworthy election process,” Gov. Scott said.
Nunez and Garcia said proposals like theirs would be pivotal in helping bring a light of hope to the Venezuelan people.
“This important legislation shows that Florida continues to stand strong against the brutal Maduro regime and any business that supports their oppressive leadership,” Garcia said. “We will continue fighting for human rights and democracy for our friends in Venezuela.”
“Together we will keep fighting everyday to bring democracy to the hardworking families of Venezuela,” she said.
This isn’t the first time Florida has jumped into the fray on the Maduro regime. In June, Scott urged President Donald Trump to “set a new course” with his foreign policy and take a hardline stance against the dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba.
Scott has pushed Trump to prohibit Maduro government officials from obtaining immigrant or non-immigrant visas to the United States
“I’m convinced that this new direction will better serve U.S. interests, generate genuine economic prosperity and help the Cuban and Venezuelan people achieve their long-awaited freedom,” Scott wrote at the time.
Florida congressmen have routinely led the way on sanctions against the Maduro regime. Last summer, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., worked in tandem to extend sanctions on Venezuela for another three years.