Just one day following the conclusion of the shameful Constituent Assembly aimed to empower Nicolas Maduro’s regime, the dictator and his gang of thugs have struck again. This time, during a cowardly overnight raid to seize two members of the opposition party, Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma.
The world saw the devastating images from Venezuela over the weekend. Maduro’s continued brutalization of the Venezuelan people with violence and a total lack of democracy is atrocious.
His brazen efforts to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution under the guise of democracy is an insult to freedom, and taking power away from his citizens against their will is completely reprehensible.
Now, with his latest move— to remove two prominent freedom fighters from their homes just hours after further U.S. sanctions— Maduro has sent a clear message to the world: the freedom and lives of the people of Venezuela are disposable in favor of empowering his totalitarian regime.
Over the last several weeks, I have continued to applaud the Trump administration’s swift actions against the Maduro regime which has endangered the lives of millions of Venezuelans. Just this week, Nicolas Maduro himself was added to the U.S. Treasury's list of Specially Designated Nationals, thereby formally defining Maduro as the dictator he has proven himself to be. This important distinction follows the “election” of the Constituent Assembly on July 30 that was designed to favor pro-Maduro candidates on the ballot. Despite the efforts to thwart this brutal regime, over 100 innocent lives have been lost. Nicolas Maduro must step down now, and we must not stop until this dictatorship is no more.
The Venezuelan people have shown their strength and resilience in the face of oppression. It is incumbent upon the United States and the rest of the free world to stand with them. We must continue to make it clear to the people of Venezuela fighting for freedom that we will not give up. We owe that to the brave men and women who stand for democracy at the ultimate cost.
We will not tolerate Maduro’s assault on freedom and democracy and must continue to find ways to advocate for human rights in Venezuela. That is at the very core of why I am proposing to officially prohibit the Florida State Board of Administration from making investments that support the Maduro regime. This is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to working with our state legislature and federal partners to take further action against the dictatorship. True freedom and democracy is the only acceptable outcome for the people of Venezuela.
We cannot accept anything short of the complete release of all political prisoners and for Maduro and his gang of thugs to step down. The time is now to make room for real democratic leadership that respects the will and rights of everyone in Venezuela.
Rick Scott is the 45th governor of Florida.