Pence to meet with Venezuelan exile community in Miami

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, second lady Karen Pence, will fly to Miami on Friday to meet with the Venezuelan exile community and rally the community behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s efforts to “restore freedom and democracy in Venezuela.”

A White House official said Pence will participate in a roundtable discussion at the Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders including families, political prisoners and former elected officials “who were forced to flee their country due to political persecution.”

“Following, the Vice President will give formal remarks, he will rally support for the Venezuelan people and reiterate the steadfast support from the United States in their fight for freedom,” a White House official said.

The Trump administration is backing Guaidó, whom the United States has recognized as Venezuela’s interim president, and his efforts to take control away from Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro amid a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis.

Pence will also be joined by Carlos Vecchio, whom the administration this week recognized as the chargé d’affaires of the government of Venezuela to the United States, Julio Borges, former President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, and Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States.

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are also expected to participate in the listening session.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House correspondent for the McClatchy Washington Bureau with a focus on immigration and foreign affairs. He previously covered Latin American affairs for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He moved to Washington in 2011 after six years at the Charlotte Observer covering immigration and working on investigative projects for The Charlotte Observer.