President Donald Trump is headed to Miami on Monday to speak about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela, a move that could embolden interim president Juan Guaidó and put further pressure on Nicolás Maduro to flee the country.
Trump is scheduled to speak at Florida International University, where he’ll reaffirm his support for Guaidó and, according to the White House, hammer socialism as a scourge. The president will deliver his address at the university’s Modesto A. Maidique campus in Sweetwater, which is immediately south of Doral, home to the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the U.S.
Trump, who is expected to travel to Mar-a-Lago ahead of the Presidents’ Day weekend, is looking to increase pressure on Maduro to leave Venezuela, while extending an opportunity to military leaders if they will disobey the Venezuelan leader and allow aid into the country. The timing is crucial as Trump and the administration seek to keep momentum building against Maduro.
“We have tremendous support all over South America, all over the world, really” for our position on Venezuela, Trump said Wednesday during a White House meeting with Colombian President Iván Duque. “We’ll be seeing a lot over the next few weeks.”
The administration is investigating how to get tens of millions of dollars worth of aid from the United States into Venezuela that Guaidó promised would be delivered starting Feb. 23. The Maduro government has blocked a bridge connecting the once oil-rich nation to Colombia as the humanitarian aid, requested by Guaidó, has collected along the border.
Trump’s visit is a continuation of an aggressive stance against Maduro, taken with consultation of Miami congressional leaders. His appearance at FIU comes just two weeks after Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Doral to emphasize the Trump administration’s support for Venezuelans and Venezuelan exiles who’ve fled to the U.S.
David Smiley, Franco Ordonez and McClatchy reporter Caitlin Ostroff contributed to this report.