On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Rick Scott, and U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, R-Fla., to meet with members of the Venezuelan exile community, local leaders, and elected officials about the continuing deterioration of democracy, the lack of respect for human rights, and unrest in Venezuela. After the listening session, Rubio delivered remarks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral. His remarks are as follows:
I am honored to be here today - I wish on different circumstances. And I believe one day it will be under different circumstances. I am confident that one day, in a Venezuela that is free, many of us will be able to gather in a setting such as this to celebrate a new era … for a great country and a great people.
This is not an ideological or political dispute. For across the region and around the world people with different ideas about the proper role of government have elections and decide them.
This is a humanitarian and political crisis. A humanitarian crisis created by a failed, incompetent regime that has taken one of the richest countries in the world and destroyed its economy. By a criminal, a criminal government headed by people who are money launderers and narcotraffickers, a mafia that has captured the reins of government in one of the nations with the oldest tradition of democracy in the region and one of the most promising economies in the world.
This is a political crisis that involves close to 700 human beings – Venezuelans – in jail because of their political beliefs. This is a crisis of over 140 people who have lost their lives since April of this year because they oppose the direction this illegitimate government is taking this country.
This is the story of the first reversal of the democratic order in this region in almost over three decades, and it will not stand. Our message here today is simple: there is only one way forward for Venezuela. That is to free political prisoners, respect human rights, justice for the victims of this tyranny, free and fair elections supervised by international organisms so that the people of Venezuela, not the narcotraffickers that currently control it, can determine the future of that great country.
The solution here is not a military coup … the solution here is an election. Have an election.
If you are so confident that the people of Venezuela support what you stand for, Nicolas Maduro, have an election. A free and fair one.
And the reason why he won’t is because he can’t and will not win. And he knows this.
This is also a time of looking to great promise of how the region has come together. They are completely isolated. There is no democratic nation in this region that has not raised its voice to condemn them, although, tragically, we have seen some other governments not step up to the plate in this region and defend democracy the way they should.
Surely, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina. All of these nations in the region are coming together to support the people of Venezuela.
And I will say this. I have one hundred percent confidence in the president and the vice president of the United States will take the appropriate measures to continue to support the cause of freedom and democracy in Venezuela. They will do it at the right time and they will do it in the right way. But they will do it. It is going to happen.
They have done more in the last eight months than we were able to get in the last four years. And for that, I can just tell you this personally, this is an issue that matters to the president of the United States and the vice president, personally. I have spoken to the president seven or eight times just in the last two months about this topic, personally at his initiative, not mine.
I can tell you the vice president of the United States of America is here today not because we asked him to come, but because he wanted to come. He made very clear -- the vice president of the United States made very clear that once his trip in Latin America was finished he wanted to come back here to this community and share with you the way forward.
Marco Rubio was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.
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