WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), along with Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), met with opposition leader and former interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó who recently fled Venezuela for his safety. Guaidó was elected by the Venezuelan National Assembly as interim leader after the 2018 sham election left the country without a legitimately elected president.
“A champion for democracy and the people of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó has been at the forefront of the struggle against the Maduro dictatorship. It was a pleasure join my colleagues in hosting him in the U.S. Capitol, and to discuss our support for efforts to restore democracy and address Venezuela’s expansive political, economic, and humanitarian crises,” said Senator Menendez.
“In the face of Maduro’s cruelty and criminal ineptitude, former interim President Guaidó stood for a better future for the Venezuelan people,” said Senator Durbin. “Against incredible odds, he and so many others continue a patriotic struggle to rebuild this once proud Latin American neighbor. During our meeting, I reiterated my admiration for his courage and belief that there should be no U.S. or international concessions to the Maduro regime without a commitment to a clean and fair 2024 Venezuelan election that includes robust international monitoring.”
“Juan Guaidó has fought for democracy in Venezuela for years,” said Senator Kaine. “I appreciated the opportunity to meet with him today to discuss the path forward to supporting democracy and rule of law in Venezuela.”
“Juan Guaidó is a forceful advocate for free and fair presidential elections, which are critical to Venezuela’s democracy,” said Senator Welch. “I was glad to meet with him today and discuss how U.S. policy can support and reinforce Venezuela's democratic objectives. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the Biden Administration to advance these priorities.”
Venezuela’s protracted humanitarian and political crises continue to drive migration, with millions of people fleeing in desperation. As a result, Venezuela is facing the second largest external displacement crisis in the world. The population that remains in Venezuela faces violence, insecurity, and increased risk of exploitation.
Menendez and Durbin repeatedly called for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans in the United States, including introduction of the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act, to grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans fleeing the dire conditions in their home country and strengthen migration systems in countries surrounding Venezuela – a move eventually granted by the Biden Administration in early 2021. Durbin traveled to Venezuela in April 2018, during which time he met with then National Assembly Member Guaidó as well as Nicolás Maduro, warning him that pursuing a sham election the following month would further isolate his autocratic regime.