Americans with ties to Venezuela likely to support Trump

Salena Zito:
Ernesto Ackerman watched the horror play out in Venezuela this weekend on a large screen on the stage of a rally he had helped organize in support of the country’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido. The event was initially meant to bring Venezuelans in the city together to coincide with the protests back home. It ended up being something very different.

“A killing of civilians without arms, burning the humanitarian help, we are dealing with the genocide,” the Venezuelan-American activist said as they watched the violence play out in real time.

Ackerman, a medical equipment executive and co-founder of the nonpartisan grassroots organization Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens, was referring to the Venezuelan border standoff led by President Nicolas Maduro that not only prohibited the much-needed food and medical humanitarian aid meant for the Venezuelan people to enter the country but also resulted in the death of four people.

Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly, swore himself in as interim president of Venezuela in January, challenging Maduro who has led the country since 2013. The U.S., along with scores of other countries, recognized him as the leader as their citizens have taken to the streets to protest the nation’s ravaging poverty and economic collapse under Maduro.

Those clashes between opposition protesters and forces loyal to Maduro escalated over the weekend during the attempted delivery of humanitarian supplies. They came exactly one week after President Trump spoke at Florida International University saying the U.S. stands with the Venezuelan people and against socialism.

"We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open," Trump said in a dramatic speech to a crowd of supporters including Ackerman, who had his picture taken with the president after the speech.

On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the Lima Group of nations in Bogota, Colombia, reinforcing the administration’s position that the U.S. has Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaido's back following the deadly weekend clashes.

The Trump administration upped the pressure with more than $50 million in additional aid to the countries in that region to provide safety to Venezuelan refugees in addition to more sanctions against backers of Maduro.
Ackerman is a supporter, not just of President Trump’s strong position on the Maduro government, but of the president himself.

“I am a Republican, I cannot understand anyone who has come from Venezuela who would be anything else,” he said, adding what made him a Republican was the idea he could achieve whatever he wanted on his own.

“Yesterday, we had a meeting with the businessmen from Venezuela. And I explained to them, when I left Venezuela, I wanted my dream was to be a millionaire, to have a big house, to have a nice car. And that's what democracy and the Republican Party's giving me,” he said of his successes since arriving here in the late 1980s.

Ackerman is part of an earlier wave of Venezuelan immigrants, many of whom are organizing to help the thousands of new Venezuelans who have been pouring into our country in recent years to flee overwhelming economic collapse and political strife. According to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, immigration from Venezuela has increased by 21 percent between 2016 and 2017 and almost doubled since 2010.
With Democrats appearing to be siding with Maduro and his socialist compatriots there does not appear to be any reason for the Venezuelan-Americans to support them.  They appear to be much like the Cubans who also fled socialism to come to the US.  It is hard to imagine that many of them will vote for Democrats pushing a socialist agenda.


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