1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Rick Scott urges military action on Venezuela: ‘This is our fight’

Florida’s junior senator says the U.S. military should get involved in getting aid across the border, after unarmed trucks manned by supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaidó were blocked by Maduro on February 23. The remarks are among the strongest statements made by an elected official on Venezuela.
Then-Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media after a 2017 Venezuelan 'Freedom Rally' in Doral. [Miami Herald]
Published Apr. 11
Updated Apr. 11

After Nicolas Maduro blocked humanitarian aid from entering Venezuela in February, the U.S. and others responded with sanctions. But nearly two months later, much of the aid continues to sit at the Venezuela-Colombia border.

Now, Florida Sen. Rick Scott is urging the U.S. military to get involved in getting aid across the border, after unarmed trucks manned by supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaidó were blocked by Maduro on February 23.

“There is only one option left to get aid to the people of Venezuela. It is something that no one is willing to talk about,” Scott said at a Thursday morning speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “It is becoming clear that we will have to consider the use of American military assets to deliver aid. Maduro and his thugs have left us no choice.”

Scott’s remarks come two weeks after Russia sent two military planes and 100 troops to Venezuela, prompting a rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

We must not appear weak in the face of Chinese, Russian, and Cuban determination to prop up Maduro,” Scott said. “Our adversaries question our will and our determination. Put simply, they don’t think we’re serious.”

Scott’s remarks are among the strongest statements made by an elected official on Venezuela.

Sending U.S. troops into Venezuela without Maduro’s approval, even in a humanitarian capacity, would significantly escalate the ongoing standoff between Guaidó and Maduro. Guaidó, the head of the national assembly who has claimed he is the legitimate leader of Venezuela, is backed by the United States and about 50 other countries around the world, though he does not have the backing of Venezuela’s military. Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey continue to recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Scott and other Miami lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have said in recent week that Maduro’s ongoing control of the government is a threat to U.S. national security, a step up from classifying the country as a socialist basket case. Scott went one step further, arguing that the current strategy of announcing new sanctions every few days hasn’t done enough to curb the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

“If sanctions can cripple the Maduro regime, we must continue on that path. But so far, sanctions alone aren’t stopping the Maduro regime and the United States needs to start considering the use of military assets to bring aid to the millions of starving and sick Venezuelans,” Scott said. “And I call on all of our allies and those supporting Guaidós to help us in this effort.”

He also said the U.S. should be wary of efforts by the Russians to increase their military presence in Venezuela, comparing the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Syrian Civil War.

“Russia has also sent nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela, to intimidate the United States and other countries in the region,” Scott said. “Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has Russia taken such aggressive steps to expand their influence in the region.”

Scott acknowledged OAS ambassador and former Florida legislator Carlos Trujillo in the audience and said the U.S. should aggressively pursue any American citizen who continues to do business with Maduro.

“We know there has to be people in Miami who are prospering off of Maduro and Chavez. Are we holding those people accountable?” Scott said, adding that doing business with Venezuela should be condemned like doing business with apartheid South Africa was 30 years ago. “When Mandela took over South Africa, that’s what you like.”

President Ronald Reagan’s veto of a bill that banned investment in South Africa was overruled by Congress amid widespread disapproval of apartheid, though Nelson Mandela’s political party maintained close ties with Cuba and Russia. Some Democrats have argued that the U.S. should not be involved in Venezuela, though South Florida Democrats and party leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi support Guaido’s interim government.

“Some have criticized the mere mention of the crisis in Venezuela by those like myself as American imperialism or a U.S.-backed coup,” Scott said. “I reject that. This is our fight.”


  1. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.
  2. Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooter killed 17 people in 2018, push petitions for 2020 ban on assault weapons in Florida. (Miami Herald) MIAMI HERALD  |
    After months of glitches, the Department of State is resorting to a paper workaround while ballot initiatives face higher costs.
  3. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.
    The Naples Republican recently refused to rule out a vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
  4. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  5. Nearly two dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein voiced their outrage at a hearing in Manhattan on Aug. 27, 2019. EMILY MICHOT | Miami Herald
    In the wake of several nationwide cases dealing with sexual assault and abuse, advocates are pushing Florida to ease its statutes of limitations
  6. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Davie, Fla. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Because Israel is a constitutional officer elected by voters, state law requires that the Senate approve or reject the governor’s decision to remove him from office and gives Israel the opportunity to...
  7. El gobernador de Florida, Ron DeSantis, hace una declaración sobre el hecho de responsabilizar a los funcionarios del gobierno en Fort Lauderdale en el Complejo de Seguridad Pública Ron Cochran el 11 de enero, luego de que nombró al ex sargento de la policía de Coral Springs. Gregory Tony reemplazará a Scott Israel como sheriff del condado de Broward. (Al Díaz / Miami Herald / TNS)
    Several Senate leaders told the Times/Herald they are prepared to accept new evidence during a daylong hearing scheduled for today. They could decide against DeSantis when they vote Wednesday.
  8. District 3 City Council candidates Orlando Acosta, left, and Ed Montanari. Scott Keeler, Chris Urso
    The St. Petersburg City Council races are supposed to be nonpartisan. Partisan politics are leaking into the campaign anyway.
  9. Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. LAWRENCE MOWER  |  Lawrence Mower
    It’s unclear how state and county officials plan on complying with the judge’s order, however. The “poll tax” issued wasn’t addressed, either.
  10. The Florida Capitol. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The job entails being a part-time lobbyist, part-time expert on the Florida Sunshine Law.