White House

Trump tells Guaidó’s wife he will ‘fix’ crisis in Venezuela

President Donald Trump in an unexpected meeting on Wednesday with the wife of Venezuelan leader Juan Guaidó lamented the economic and humanitarian crisis where food and power are scarce in the Latin American country, and promised to “fix it.”

The president, in the White House Oval Office meeting, sought to assure Fabiana Rosales de Guaidó and the wife of Guaidó’s chief of staff, who has been detained by the Maduro regime, that things would “all work out.”

Trump blamed past U.S. administrations for the current crisis and, without naming specific administrations, said they should have been “more forward thinking.”

“These are things that should never have been allowed to happen,” Trump said. “But I’ll fix it.”

The high-profile meeting and the preceding bilateral discussions with Vice President Mike Pence are the latest attempt by the Trump administration to keep U.S. attention on the crisis and increase pressure on Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, who has been able to maintain territorial control of the country.

Rosales thanked Trump and Pence as well as National Security Advisor John Bolton. She described “a terrible crisis” in Venezuela where children are dying. She told Trump she was afraid for her husband’s life, explaining that he had been attacked just the previous day.

She promised they would continue fighting.

“What they don’t know is when they do that, they’re pushing us forward,” Rosales said. “We will not rest. We are here to save lives and to give back freedom. We want to save our children, we want to save our elderly who are the ones who are suffering. This is what Venezuela is going through.”

Romy Moreno Molina, the wife of Roberto Marrero, Guaidó’s chief of staff, described the 2 a.m. raid where Maduro’s forces stormed her home, destroyed property and took her husband.

“It was a nightmare,” she said, adding they didn’t know what happened to him for almost a week. ”We have a 7-year-old kid who doesn’t know anything.”

The meeting was also reminiscent of another surprise meeting with the wife of then-detained opposition leader Leopoldo López at the beginning of Trump’s term. That meeting was largely seen as a turning point for Trump, who then began increasing pressure against the Maduro government.

Trump warned Russia against meddling after Moscow sent military personnel to Caracas, saying, “Russia has to get out.” Pence earlier called Russia’s action an “unwelcome provocation.”

Asked whether the United States is considering ramping up pressure on Venezuela, Trump said: “They’ve got a lot of pressure right now. They have no money, they have no oil, they have no nothing. They’ve got plenty of pressure right now. They have no electricity. Other than military you can’t get any more pressure than they have.”

Rosales also met with members of Congress, including Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rick Scott, R-Fla, Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla, Donna Shalala, D-Fla, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla and Albio Sires, D-N.J., as well as Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla, Michael McCaul, R-Tx, and Francis Rooney, R-Fla.

Guaido ambassador Carlos Vecchio stressed that the situation in the country has changed after Marrero was arrested last week.

“This is a new level of repression, they are attacking those close to Guadio,” Vecchio said.

Diaz-Balart said recent events have made Venezuela an increased national security threat to the United States and other Western Hemisphere nations.

“This is more dangerous for our national security than a lot of things in the Middle East that have gotten more attention in recent years,” Diaz-Balart said.

Alex Daugherty contributed to this report.