President Trump Backs Down From Tariff Threat After US and Mexico Reach Agreement

The United States and Mexico appear to have reached an agreement on the current immigration crisis which will avert the harsh and draconian tariffs that President Donald Trump threatened to levy on all Mexican imports.

President Trump announced the agreement in two tweets:

“I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to … stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States. Details of the agreement will be released shortly by the State Department. Thank you!”

In a press statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked his Mexican counterpart, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. “The United States looks forward to working alongside Mexico to fulfill these commitments so that we can stem the tide of illegal migration across our southern border and to make our border strong and secure,” said Secretary Pompeo.

Minister Ebrard appeared to be pleased with the agreement. In a tweet, he thanked Secretary Pompeo “for his valuable participation in achieving today’s agreement with the US.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also voiced his support for the arrangement in a tweet.

In a media note from the Department of State, the US and Mexican governments agreed to “work together to immediately implement a durable solution” and to crack down on “irregular migration” in their countries.

Mexico agreed to beef up immigration enforcement. Under the agreement, the National Guard will be deployed Mexico’s southern border and throughout the country. Mexico also agreed to allow the US to send immigrants claiming asylum back to Mexico while their asylum case is being adjudicated in the US and to provide migrants with jobs, healthcare, and education. For its part, the United States agreed to speed up the adjudication process for asylum claims.

United States committed to expand the practice of returning migrants seeking asylum at the southern border to Mexico while their asylum case works its way through the courts.

Both countries also agreed to continue to cooperate on security concerns along their shared border and to address the underlying issues driving migrants to leave their homes in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

While the tariff threat appears to be lifted for now, the agreement leaves much to be desired. The White House has not specified if it will require additional appropriation from Congress to increase border security to implement the new agreement or if everything can be accomplished under current allocated funding.

Additionally, the process of sending migrants who crossed into the United States to claim asylum back to Mexico, known as Migrant Protection Protocols, may violate several laws. According to the Washington Post, federal judge blocked the controversial policy in April noting that it probably violated the Immigration Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

Furthermore, President Trump may decide to use this tactic of essentially extorting Mexico to change its domestic policy by threatening massive and indiscriminate tariffs in the future if Mexico is unable to sufficiently stop the flow of migrants coming from Central America.

So while the immediate issue may have been resolved, the underlining problem President Trump’s willingness to break norms and use threats of a trade war continues to undermine the relationship between the Mexico and the United States.

Trump Administration Announces Support For Guaido As Violence Erupts in Caracas

Juan Guaido called for massive protests on Tuesday against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. The situation has turned violent in places. According to Reuters, dozens of armed troops loyal to Guaido clashed with regime soldiers and a pro-regime National Guard vehicle ran into opposition protesters.

Guaido is the leader of the National Assembly and recognized as the interim president of Venezuela by the United States, the European Union, and most Latin American countries.

The United States government is standing firmly behind Guaido.

“I am monitoring the situation in Venezuela very closely,” President Donald Trump tweeted. ” The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom!”

“We are with you!” tweeted Vice President Mike Pence. “America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored.”

“Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted. “The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated.”

Yesterday, Pompeo would not comment on how long he believed Maduro would stay in power in a conversation with the editor-in-chief of The Hill.

National Security Adviser John Bolton used the platform to warn several high ranking officials in the Venezuelan government to abandon Maduro or “go down with the ship.”

A spokesperson for the Treasury Department released the following statement on the current situation in Venezuela:

“The United States stands with the Venezuelan people and interim President Juan Guaido in opposition to the illegitimate Maduro regime.  The path to sanctions relief for individuals and entities aligned with the former Maduro regime, including institutions such as PdVSA, is to change behavior by supporting Venezuela’s democratically elected leader and those who seek to restore democracy.  The United States and our partners and allies stand ready to leverage the tools of the international financial community to help swiftly restart Venezuela’s economy.  This Administration will continue to hold accountable those who stand in the way of restoring democracy to Venezuela.”

The United States was the first country to recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela more than three months ago. The current situation is the most serious threat to the Maduro regime since anti-government protests in 2017.

Transcipt: Joint Conference By Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro joined United States President Donald Trump at the White House on March 19, 2019. Both men were on the political fringes until they were propelled in a whirlwind to the highest offices in their countries.

The following is a transcript of the Presidents’ prepared remarks as well as questions and answers:

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much everyone.  Thank you.  Today, I’m very thrilled to welcome President Bolsonaro of Brazil for his first visit to the White House.  President Bolsonaro, I want to congratulate you again on your tremendous election victory last October.  It was an incredible feat and, really, a truly incredible challenge.  And the end result was something the whole world was talking about.

I also know that we’re going to have a fantastic working relationship.  We have many views that are similar.  And we certainly feel very, very true to each other on trade.  I think Brazil’s relationship with the United States, because of our friendship, is probably better than it’s ever been by far.

I also want to congratulate you on your recovery from a truly horrible ordeal.  It was an incredible recovery, and the people of your country know it.  The great bravery you’ve shown — tremendous bravery.

For two centuries, the American and Brazilian people have been united by shared values, including an enduring love of faith and family and country.

The United States was the first nation to recognize Brazil’s independence in 1822.  And in the Second World War, Brazil was the only South American country to contribute troops to the Allied war effort.

Today, the United States and Brazil are the two largest democracies and economies in the Western Hemisphere.  We’re in close agreement on the incredible opportunities and continuing challenges facing our region.  And we have a truly historic chance to forge even stronger ties between our two great nations.

This afternoon, the President and I discussed many of our mutual priorities, including Venezuela.  Brazil has been an extraordinary leader in supporting the Venezuelan people’s efforts to reclaim their liberty and their democracy.  Brazil has helped so much.  Along with the United States, Brazil was one of the first nations to recognize Venezuela’s legitimate Interim President, Juan Guaidó.

I also want to express our profound gratitude to President Bolsonaro and all the Brazilian people for their efforts to provide humanitarian aid.  We also thank you for allowing the United States to station extensive assistance and massive aid on the Brazilian border.  The Brazilian people have been incredible.

Together, we could — and have been, really, very happy to feed thousands and thousands of starving Venezuelans.  The Venezuelan people have appreciated it.  And if the Maduro forces would step aside, it could be a truly great and successful humanitarian project.

We call on members of the Venezuelan military to end their support for Maduro, who is really nothing more than a Cuban puppet, and finally set their people free.

The United States and Brazil are also united in support of the long-suffering people of Cuba and Nicaragua.  The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere.  And hopefully, by the way, it’s also arrived — that twilight hour — in our great country, which is doing better than it’s ever done economically.  The last thing we want in the United States is socialism.

So, President Bolsonaro, I will tell you that we’ll be consulting and talking a lot.  We’ll be working on all of our both problems and assets.  And we’re making tremendous strides.  We had a great meeting today.

As I told President Bolsonaro, I also intend to designate Brazil as a “Major Non-NATO Ally,” or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally — have to talk to a lot of people, but maybe a NATO ally — which will greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries.

Our nations are already working together to protect our people from terrorism, transnational crime, and drugs and weapons trafficking.  Also, human trafficking, which has really become something that has come to the forefront of crime.  Horrible, horrible situation.  We look forward to an even deeper partnership and working together.

In our meetings, we also discussed the strong economic ties between our nations, grounded in the principles of fairness and reciprocity.  My favorite word: reciprocity.

President Bolsonaro and I are both committed to reducing trade barriers, facilitating investment, and supporting innovation across a range of industries, particularly energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and technology.

The President’s vision for freeing the private sector and opening the economy is the right way for Brazil to achieve strong economic growth.  And our great companies are ready to go when that table is flat and free.

To improve our business relationships, we have revived the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, and we have started a new U.S.-Brazil Energy Forum.  We welcome Brazil’s aspirations to join Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a laudable goal and one that will make Brazil’s status as a developing and developed country.  We also hope that all of us will be able to work together — all nations.

I’m also pleased to announce that after 20 years of talks, we are finalizing a Technology Safeguards Agreement to allow U.S. companies to conduct space launches from Brazil.  It’s actually an incredible location when you study it and when you see it.  We won’t go into it now.  But because of the location, tremendous amounts of money would be saved.  To put it very simply: The flights are a lot shorter.

Brazil’s proximity to the equator makes it an ideal launch location.  My administration is committed to reviving America’s proud legacy in space.  We’re looking very strongly, as you know, and working together with everybody on Space Force.  And we are grateful for Brazil’s partnership.

Mr. President, thank you again for the honor of your visit today.  A strong and thriving friendship between the United States and Brazil is essential to a future of security and prosperity for all of our citizens.  It’s been a wonderful time getting to know you.  You’re doing a fantastic job.  You’ve brought the country together.  And I look forward to working with you in a very close relationship for many years to come.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Mr. President, thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Mr. President, Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America; my Cabinet ministers; members of the delegations joining us in this session today both from Brazil and from the U.S.; and ladies and gentlemen, media professionals, other guests: Thank you very much, President Trump, for your warm hospitality.  It is an honor for us to be in Washington as part of my first bilateral trip ever since I was elected President of Brazil.

I would like to use the opportunity, by the way, to invite you to reciprocate this visit because you will indeed be very welcomed by the Brazilian people, at large.  We do share a great deal in common.

I have always admired the United States of America.  And this sense of admiration has just increased after you took office, at the presidency.

This meeting of ours today restores an old tradition of partnership.  And, at the same time, it starts a new chapter of cooperation between Brazil and the United States.  Inasmuch as today, we have revisited and have again decided to promote matters that were on our order of business for decades.

It is time to overcome old resistance and explore the very best potential that is there between Brazil and the United States.  After all, it is fair to say that, today, Brazil does have a President who is not anti-American, which is really unprecedented in the past few decades.

The reforms we are currently undertaking have changed Brazil into an even more attractive country.  We are strongly committed to striking a proper balance in government accounts and also, of course, totally changing the business environment.  U.S. support to Brazil’s accession to the OECD will be clearly interpreted or construed as a gesture of mutual understanding, which will be very emblematic as part of the closer and closer ties we aspire to.

The private sectors of both countries should remain a high-profile player in our relations.  And that is why we have decided to restore the CEO Forum between Brazil and the U.S.  We also intend to attach priority to relaunching an energy forum with an emphasis on oil, gas, and other sources of energy.

The Brazilian government, as a sign of goodwill, has granted whole visa exemption to U.S. nationals, with a view to further encouraging tourism and business travels.

On the defense and space cooperation work front, we have signed a Technology Safeguards Agreement, which will, in turn, enable the Alcântara Satellite Launch Center.

Military cooperation has also expanded as we seek out partnerships in the development of defense systems.  Science, technology, and innovation activity can certainly be expected to take on an increasing role as part of our bilateral agenda, hence our proposal to launch an innovation forum between Brazil and the U.S.

Efforts to tackle terrorism and organized crime is a matter of utmost urgency for our two peoples.  We have decided to strengthen our bilateral security forum and do more against money laundering and drug trafficking.

Reestablishing democracy in Venezuela is also a shared interest between our two administrations.  The dictatorial regime in Venezuela today is part of a broader international coalition, known as the “São Paulo Forum,” which nearly conquered power throughout Latin America in recent times.  However, by democratic means, we were able to rid ourselves from that project in Brazil.

In conclusion, may I say that Brazil and the United States stand side by side in their efforts to ensure liberties and respect to traditional family lifestyles, respect to God, our Creator, against the gender ideology or the politically correct attitudes, and against fake news.

Drawing inspiration from Ronald Reagan, I wish to bring to Brazil his administration style, as summarized in the following citation: People should say what the government can do, and not the other way around.

The United States changed in 2017, and Brazil has just started to change now, in 2019.  We stand together, side by side, to the ultimate benefit of our two nations.  We want to have a great America, yes, and we also want to have a great Brazil.

Once again, may I voice my admiration and recognition to President Donald Trump on this beautiful day where we seal a promising alliance between the two most promising and largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere.  May God bless Brazil, and may God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So we’ll take a couple of questions.

Roberta Rampton, please.  Roberta.  Reuters.  Thank you.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.  On Venezuela, you did the tough sanctions and you sent the aid, but it seems like Maduro is no closer to leaving.  And I’m wondering if you’re getting worried about losing momentum.  And how long are you being told that this going to take?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I’m not being told any specific time.  They’ve been there a long time, between him and his predecessor.  At some point, I would imagine things will change.  But we really haven’t done the really tough sanctions yet.  We can do the tough sanctions.  And all options are open, so we may be doing that.  But we haven’t done the toughest of sanctions, as you know.  We’ve done, I would say, right down the middle.  But we can go a lot tougher if we need to do that.

But it’s a very sad thing, and we’re not looking for anything other than taking care of a lot of people that are starving and dying in the streets.  What’s happening there is a disgrace.  This was one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and all of a sudden it’s just — it’s grief-stricken, poverty-stricken, no food, no water, no air conditioning, no anything.  No power for a long time last week.  No power.  And that’s going to break down again because it’s being held together by threads.

So it’s very sad, Roberta.  Very sad to see.  Okay?

Q    May I ask President Bolsonaro?  President Bolsonaro, are you open to the idea of allowing a U.S. base or U.S. military personnel or a military presence in Brazil to provide support on the border with Venezuela?  And is that something that you talked about with President Trump today?

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  (As interpreted.)  Yeah, we have discussed the possibility of Brazil becoming a great Allied extra NATO.  Recently, we requested that food was sent through Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, through our friends from America, so that humanitarian aid was provided to Venezuela.

At this point in time, this is where we stand.  So for as much as it is possible for us to do together to sort out the issue of the Venezuelan dictatorship, Brazil will be more than willing and ready to fulfill this mission and take freedom and democracy to that country, which up until recently was one of the wealthiest countries in South America.  But nowadays, people are starving to death, they are suffering violence, lack of medication.  It’s something terrible that’s going on in there.  And we need to put an end to this issue, which is pervasive to the whole wide world.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. President, yes.

Q    (As interpreted.)  Hello, Simone Iglesias from Bloomberg.  I would like to know, if the U.S. actually have a military intervention in Venezuela, what’s the position of Brazil?

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  (As interpreted.)  Well, there are a few issues that, if you speak, they are no longer strategic.  Therefore, these reserved issues, which may be discussed if they have not yet, will not become public, evidently.

I remember on a debate here in the United States when a candidate asked another candidate what he would do to fight the Islamic State.  He said, “If I say, I will no longer be able to beat it.”  So it’s a matter of strategy.  For everything that we discuss here will be honored, but unfortunately certain pieces of information, if are to come to the table, may not be debated publicly.

Q    (As interpreted.)  President Trump, regarding the military intervention, do you think about this possibility of fighting Venezuela to remove Maduro from power?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So, as I said, all options are open.  I think of all possibilities.  All options are open.  We’ll see what happens.

And, by the way, I see in the audience the son of the President who has been fantastic.  Would you please stand up?  The job you’ve done during a very tough period of time is just fantastic.  And I know your father appreciates it, that I can tell you.  Okay?  Thank you very much.  Fantastic job.

Saagar Enjeti, from Daily Caller.  Saagar.

Q    Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.

Q    I have two questions for you, sir, if I may.  The first on the 2020 election.  There’s a growing number of Democratic candidates who have endorsed the idea of adding seats to the Supreme Court.  Is that an idea that you would entertain in the remainder of your term or possible next term?  Or is that not something that you agree with?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, I wouldn’t entertain that.  The only reason that they’re doing that is they want to try and catch up.  So if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try doing it in a different way.  No, we would have no interest in that whatsoever.  It’ll never happen.  It won’t happen — I guarantee it won’t happen for six years.

Q    Another question for you on social media.  You tweeted in support of Congressman Nunes’s suit against Twitter.  There’s part of a larger discussion that Senator Josh Hawley has been leading about making social media companies liable for the content that is on their platform, which they’re not currently.  Is that an idea or a change in law that you would support?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we have to do something.  I tell you, I have many, many millions of followers on Twitter.  And it’s different than it used to be.  Things are happening, names are taken off, people aren’t getting through.  You’ve heard the same complaints.  And it seems to be, if they’re conservative, if they’re Republicans, if they’re in a certain group, there’s discrimination and big discrimination.  I see it absolutely on Twitter and Facebook, which I have also, and others I see.

But I really focus more on the one platform.  And I have many different platforms.  It’s — I guess we have 60 million — almost 60 million on Twitter.  And if you add them all up, it’s way over 100 million people.  And I get to see firsthand what’s going on, and it’s not good.

And we use the word “collusion” very loosely all the time.  And I will tell you, there is collusion with respect to that, because something has to be going on.  And when you get the back-scene, back-office statements made by executives of the various companies and you see the level of, in many cases, hatred they have for a certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election, you say that’s really unfair.

So something is happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter.  And I do think we have to get to the bottom of it.  It’s very fair — it’s collusive, and it’s very, very fair to say that we have to do something about it.  And if we don’t — you know, the incredible thing is that we can win an election and we have such a stacked deck.  And that includes networks, frankly.  You look at the networks, you look at the news, you look at the newscasts — I call it “fake news.”  I’m very proud to hear the President use the term “fake news.”  But you look at what’s happening with the networks.  You look at what’s happening with different shows.  And it’s hard to believe we win.

But, you know, I’ll tell you what it really shows: The people are smart.  The people get it.  They’ll go through all of that — whatever it is they’re fed — and in the end, they pull the right lever.  It’s a very, very dangerous situation.  So I think I agree.  I think something has to be looked at very closely.

Q    Thank you, sir.  President Bolsonaro, and another question on the 2020 election: If a number of the Democrats who are running to replace the President have embraced or have considered socialist ideas — you’ve spoken critically of that in the past — if a socialist or a candidate who embraced socialism were to replace the President, how would it affect your relations with the United States?

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  (As interpreted.)  Well, it’s an internal affair.  We will respect whatever the ballots tell us on 2020, but I do believe Donald Trump is going to be reelected fully.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  I agree.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  (As interpreted.)  Yeah.  This was the same — what happened to me.  I think everyone will repeat their vote here in America.

So, every day, more and more people that are prone to socialism, and even communism, slowly are going to be opening their minds to the reality.  And you can see the border with Venezuela and Brazil was recently closed — not for Brazilians, which are pro-socialism, to go into Venezuela, but the other way around, so that Venezuelans who support democracy wouldn’t go into Brazil.  This feeling most certainly is going to be very much seen when 2020 comes.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. President, thank you very much.

Q    Sorry —

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Go ahead.  You want to go?

Q    Yeah.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You look like a very nice person.

Q    Yeah.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Go ahead.  Watch — this will be the killer of all time.  Watch.  (Laughter.)

Q    (Laughs.)  Thank you, Mr. President.  Beatriz Bulla from Estadão.  The USTR is not supporting the entry of Brazil in the OECD.  Is the U.S. government going to formally support Brazil’s entry on the OECD?  And what have you asked as a trade-off?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We will be supporting — we’re going to have a great relationship in so many different ways.  That’s just a — just something that we’re going to be doing in honor of the President and in honor of Brazil.

We will be asking for things but not necessarily having to do with that.  I think we’re just going to have a very fair relationship.  Okay?

Q    Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.

Q    And President Bolsonaro —

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  Thank you!  (Laughter.)

Q    (As interpreted.)  President Bolsonaro, does the United States expect the influence of China into Brazil?  Yesterday, Paulo Guedes mentioned that it’s going to incentivize relations with China.  How does the U.S. see that, and what you said about President Trump, about the Chinese in Brazil?

PRESIDENT BOLSONARO:  (As interpreted.)  Well, like I said, Brazil is going to keep on making as much business with as many countries as possible.  No longer businesses are going to be found into the ideology, as it used to be.  We are also following this objective for the good of our peoples.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.  I appreciate it.  Thank you very much.  And thank you everybody.  Thank you very much.

Q    Another round of trade talks with China, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  China is going — China is going very well.  Talks with China are going very well.

Thank you everybody.  Thank you.

Transcript: Trump’s Speech On Venezuela And Socialism

The following is a transcript of United States President Donald Trump’s speech at Florida International University in Maimi, Florida, on February 18, 2019:

MRS. TRUMP:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  It is wonderful to be here today in the beautiful city of Miami.  (Applause.)  The President and I are honored to stand with all of you as we together support the people — great people — of Venezuela.  (Applause.)

I’m proud to be here with you in the United States of America as your First Lady.  (Applause.)  Many of you in the room know what it feels like to be blessed with freedom after living under the oppression of socialism and communism.  (Applause.)  In Venezuela, the people are on the brink of reclaiming their own liberty.

Today, we must let the Venezuelan people hear us all with one united voice.  There is hope, we are free, and we pray together loudly and proudly that soon the people of Venezuela will be free as well.  (Applause.)

My husband is here today because he cares deeply about the current suffering in Venezuela.  This afternoon, he has an important message to share.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to introduce my husband and the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Melania.  America is truly blessed to have such a — an extraordinary — right? Extraordinary First Lady.  (Applause.)  She’s extraordinary.  She really is.  She cares about people.

Hello, Miami.  I am thrilled to be back in the state I love with so many proud, freedom-loving patriots.  We’re here to proclaim a new day is coming in Latin America.  (Applause.)  It’s coming.

In Venezuela and across the Western Hemisphere, socialism is dying, and liberty, prosperity, and democracy are being reborn.  (Applause.)

Today, our hearts are filled with hope because of the determination of millions of everyday Venezuelans, the patriotism of the Venezuelan National Assembly, and the incredible courage of Interim President Juan Guaidó.  (Applause.)

The people of Venezuela are standing for freedom and democracy, and the United States of America is standing right by their side.  (Applause.)

Let me begin by thanking the great leaders here today who have been such incredible champions for the cause of liberty.  And these people love you, and they love Venezuela, and they love Cuba.  And they love all of the places that we’re fighting for.  (Applause.)

Newly elected and already doing an incredible job, Governor Ron DeSantis.  (Applause.)

A man who I call, especially when we’re talking about Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua — he knows a lot, and he’s a friend of mine: Senator Marco Rubio.  (Applause.)

A great governor; he gave Ron a little bit of a head start.  He did a fantastic job in Florida.  Former governor, and now senator, Rick Scott.  (Applause.)

Somebody that I’ve gotten to know very well, especially as to the fact that my heart is in Venezuela — (applause) — Representative Mario Diaz-Balart.  (Applause.)

Ambassador Carlos Trujillo. (Applause.)  Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez.  (Applause.)  Your new and great Attorney General, Ashley Moody.  (Applause.)  And to so many other dedicated public officials that are in this room right now, we thank you very much for being with us.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Thank you also to Secretary of Commerce.  Wilbur Ross is with us, and Ambassador Lighthizer.  Ambassador Lighthizer, I have to say, just got back from a place called China.  And, boy, oh, boy — we’re making a lot of progress.  Nobody expected this was going to be happening.  (Applause.)  We’re making a lot of progress.  (Applause.)

In the meantime, billions and billions of dollars are coming into our Treasury.  It’s very simple.  All works.  That never happened before.  We don’t know the feeling in this country, but now we know the feeling.  (Applause.)

We also want to extend our deep appreciation to the President of Florida International University, Dr. Mark Rosenberg — (applause) — for hosting this important event.

Finally, I want to thank each and every person in this wonderful audience who has made your own stand for human dignity.  And that’s probably just about all of you.  (Applause.)

And I want to especially thank the Venezuelan exile community that has done so much to support President Guaidó to organize aid for their compatriots and to do just a lot back home.  Thank you very much for being here.  Thank you.  We’re with you.  (Applause.)

We are profoundly grateful to every dissident, every exile, every political prisoner, and everyone who bears witness to the horrors of socialism and communism, and who has bravely spoken out against them.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

The fact is, you’ve seen the crimes and you’ve seen the corruption.  You have seen the hunger and the suffering.  You have heard the anguished pleas for help.  You have protested, and protested with respect, but loudly.  And you have prayed for the day we can now see, which is just ahead — the day when all the people of this region will at last be free.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  As we meet today, the people of Venezuela stand at the threshold of history, ready to reclaim their country and to reclaim their future.

Not long ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation, by far, in South America.  But years of socialist rule have brought this once-thriving nation to the brink of ruin.  That’s where it is today.

The tyrannical socialist government nationalized private industries and took over private businesses.  They engaged in massive wealth confiscation, shut down free markets, suppressed free speech, and set up a relentless propaganda machine, rigged elections, used the government to persecute their political opponents, and destroyed the impartial rule of law.

In other words, the socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule.  The results have been catastrophic.

Almost 90 percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty.
In 2018, hyperinflation in Venezuela exceeded 1 million percent.  Crippling shortages of food and medicine plague the country.  Socialism has so completely ravaged this great country that even the world’s largest reserves of oil are no longer enough to keep the lights on.  This will never happen to us.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

Already, more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled Maduro’s brutal opposition — and brutal it is.

Today, we are honored to be joined by Amintha Perez, the mother of Oscar Perez — a courageous Venezuelan police officer.  (Applause.)  You know the story.

In June of 2017, Oscar piloted a helicopter over the city of Baruta with the banner, “350 Liberty,” a reference to Article 350 of the Venezuelan constitution, which states: “The people of Venezuela…shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values…or encroaches upon human rights.”

Oscar said he wanted to give the people hope.  He loved the people.  He fought for the people.  And they loved Oscar.  But Oscar was gunned down and killed by Venezuela’s — you know this very well; you all know the story — by the Venezuelan security forces, viciously.

Amintha, our hearts break for your loss.  Oscar gave his life for the freedom of his people.  We all have hope today because of great, great people and patriots like Oscar.  (Applause.)  Please, Amintha.  (Applause.)

I said, “How about saying something in Spanish?”  She likes Spanish.  She’s a little bit better in Spanish.  Please.  Please.

AUDIENCE:  (Inaudible.)

MS. PEREZ:  (Speaks Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)

(Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know what she said, but I think I know what she said.  And she is an incredible woman.  And Oscar was an incredible man who will not have died in vain.  (Applause.)

A few weeks ago, on January 23rd, Venezuela’s National Assembly invoked the Venezuelan constitution to declare the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s legitimate leader.  In one of his first acts, President Guaidó invoked the same constitutional article that Oscar carried through the skies to notify the world that Maduro was illegitimate.

Within 30 minutes, the United States was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize President Guaidó.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And, by the way, John Bolton is here.  Where is John?  (Applause.)  Working hard.

Today, more than 50 countries around the world now recognize the rightful government of Venezuela.  And the Venezuelan people have spoken, and the world has heard their beautiful voice.  They are turning the page on socialism, turning the page on dictatorship, and there will be no going back.  (Applause.)

Peace-loving nations are ready to help Venezuela reclaim its democracy, its dignity, and its destiny.  All the nations in our hemisphere have the shared interest in preventing the spread of socialist tyranny.  Socialism, by its very nature, does not respect borders.  It does not respect boundaries or the sovereign rights of its citizens or its neighbors.  It’s always seeking to expand, to encroach, and to subjugate others to its will.

The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere — (applause) — and, frankly, in many, many places around the world.  The days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well.  (Applause.)

Do we love Cuba?  (Applause.)  Do we love Nicaragua?  (Applause.)  Great countries.  Such great potential.  Remember that word.  Such unbelievable potential.

In the meantime, we must all work together to end a humanitarian disaster.  As we speak, there are truckloads filled with hundreds of tons of desperately needed humanitarian supplies stopped at the borders of Venezuela and waiting to help the millions and millions in need.

Two days ago, the first U.S. Air Force C-17 — that’s a big, beautiful plane — landed in Colombia loaded with crucial assistance, including thousands of nutrition kits for little Venezuelan children.  (Applause.)  Unfortunately, Dictator Maduro has blocked this lifesaving aid from entering the country.  He would rather see his people starve than give them aid, than help them.

Millions of Venezuelans are starving and suffering while a small handful at the top of the Maduro regime plunder the nation into poverty and into death.  We know who they are, and we know where they keep the billions of dollars that they have stolen.

Incredibly, there are members of the Venezuelan military still barely supporting this failed dictatorship.  They are risking their future, they are risking their lives and Venezuela’s future, for a man controlled by the Cuban military and protected by a private army of Cuban soldiers.  (Applause.)  Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot; he is a Cuban puppet.  That’s what he is.  (Applause.)

And remember that hundreds of millions of dollars used to be paid to Cuba — but no longer, because they no longer have that kind of wealth to be able to do it.  So things are changing, and they’re changing fast.  (Applause.)

And today I have a message for every official who is helping to keep Maduro in place:

The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day,
and every day in the future.  You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you.  You can choose to accept President Guaidó’s generous offer of amnesty, to live your life in peace with your families and your countrymen.  President Guaidó does not seek retribution against you, and neither do we.  But you must not follow Maduro’s orders to block humanitarian aid, and you must not threaten any form of violence against peaceful protestors — (applause) — opposition leaders, members of the National Assembly, or President Guaidó and his family.

We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open.  (Applause.)  We want to restore Venezuelan democracy, and we believe that the Venezuelan military and its leadership have a vital role to play in this process.  If you choose this path, you have the opportunity to help forge a safe and prosperous future for all the people of Venezuela.

Or you can choose the second path: continuing to support Maduro.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit, and no way out.  You will lose everything.  (Applause.)

So today, I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger, and death for your people.  Let your people go.  Set your country free.  Now is the time for all Venezuelan patriots to act together as one united people.  (Applause.)  Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela.  And nothing could be better for the future of another captive nation — Cuba — than the rebirth of freedom and democracy in Venezuela.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  For decades, the socialist dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela have propped each other up in a very corrupt bargain.  Venezuela gave Cuba oil.  In return, Cuba gave Venezuela a police state run directly from Havana.  (Applause.)

But this is a much different day, and those days are over.  (Applause.)  The ugly alliance between the two dictatorships is coming to a rapid end.  A new future is beginning.  All of us in this arena, and thousands and thousands and thousands of people outside — you have to see it — are united because we know the truth about socialism in Venezuela, in Cuba, in Nicaragua, and all around the world.  (Applause.)

Socialism promises prosperity, but it delivers poverty.
Socialism promises unity, but it delivers hatred and it delivers division.  Socialism promises a better future, but it always returns to the darkest chapters of the past.  That never fails.  It always happens.

Socialism is a sad and discredited ideology rooted in the total ignorance of history and human nature, which is why socialism, eventually, must always give rise to tyranny, which it does.  (Applause.)  Socialists profess a love of diversity, but they always insist on absolute conformity.

We know that socialism is not about justice, it’s not about equality, it’s not about lifting up the poor.  Socialism is about one thing only: power for the ruling class.  (Applause.) And the more power they get, the more they crave.  They want to run healthcare, run transportation and finance, run energy, education — run everything.

They want the power to decide who wins and who loses, who’s up and who’s down, what’s true and what’s false, and even who lives and who dies.  (Applause.)

In short, all of us here today know that there is nothing less democratic than socialism.  Everywhere and anywhere it appears, socialism advances under the banner of progress, but in the end, it delivers only corruption, exploitation, and decay.

With us today is David Smolansky.  (Applause.)  David was one of the youngest mayors in Venezuelan history when the Maduro regime removed him from office and issued a warrant for his arrest.  David fled into Venezuela’s treacherous southern jungle.  Eventually, David reached Brazil, where he was welcomed with open arms.

Today, David lives in exile in the United States, where he continues to speak up for the Venezuelan people.  Sadly, David is the third generation of his family to flee the agony of socialism and communism.  David’s grandparents fled the Soviet Union in 1927, and his father fled communist Cuba in 1970.

As David said, “The difference I want to have from my father and grandfather is to go back to my country.”  (Applause.)  “My grandparents never went back to Kiev…my father has not been back to Havana.  I hope I can [soon] return to Venezuela.”  (Applause.)  I think that will happen, David.

Thank you very much, David.  I think it’ll soon happen.  Your courage, David, is an inspiration.  And not only David; many of the people in this room.  You’ve been through much, but you see it coming to the end.  You see it really coming to an end for the first time.  For the first time, you’re seeing it — because the United States, a true great nation, is behind you.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And so as the United States stands up for democracy in Venezuela, we reaffirm the solidarity with the long-suffering people of Cuba and Nicaragua and people everywhere living under socialist and communist regimes.

And to those who would try to impose socialism on the United States, we again deliver a very simple message: America will never be a socialist country.  (Applause.)

We are born free and we will stay free, now and forever.
(Applause.)  We know what freedom can do in Venezuela because we have seen that future right here in Doral.

We know what freedom can do in Cuba because we have seen that future right here in Miami.  (Applause.)

We know what freedom can do in Nicaragua because we have seen that future in Sweetwater.  (Applause.)

And one day soon, with God’s help, we are going to see what the people will do in Caracas and Managua and Havana.  (Applause.)

And when Venezuela is free, and Cuba is free, and Nicaragua is free, this will become the first free hemisphere in all of human history.  (Applause.)

It was my great honor to be with you today, and the First Lady’s great honor to be with you today.  We are winning.  We are winning on every front.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the people of Venezuela.  God bless the people of Cuba.  God bless the people of Nicaragua.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

Pompeo On Venezuela: “The Quest For Freedom Is On.”

The economic and political crises in Venezuela has left the once prosperous nation a shell of its former self.

The economy is in shambles due to fiscal mismanagement, over reliance on oil, and massive corruption. Last year, hyper inflation reached 80,000 percent.

Politically, the country is, for all intents and purposes, a dictatorship. Whereas Hugo Chávez was always able to make the case that he had a popular mandate from the voters, his successor, Nicolás Maduro, has functionally ended democracy by packing the Supreme Court in 2015, creating a new legislature in 2017, and concentrating power in the executive.

In an interview last Wednesday on Fox News, Sean Hannity asked United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his position on Venezuela and the current turmoil.

Pompeo mentioned that President Donald Trump had recently spoken with Juan Guaidó, the leader of the National Assembly who the US recognizes as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela, and said, “The quest for freedom is on.”

“The Venezuelan people have made very, very clear that their constitution demands that Maduro not be the president of [Venezuela], and the United States is prepared to support the Venezuelan people to achieve the freedom, democracy – you talked about it,” said Pompeo. “This is a once wealthy nation with enormous natural resources, and yet we have a humanitarian crisis, we’ve had 3 million refugees leave Venezuela. This is a catastrophe, a man-made catastrophe by the Maduro regime, and we’re intent upon helping the Venezuelan people correct it.”

The Trump administration has been turning up the pressure on Maduro and increasing its support for Guaidó.

On January 25, Pompeo gave Guaidó authority to “receive and control certain property in accounts of the Government of Venezuela or Central Bank of Venezuela held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other U.S. insured banks,” according to a press statement.

The State Department claimed that their actions “will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people” and called on other countries to take similar measures in support of Guaidó.

President Trump’s Executive Order Against The Maduro Regime

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, issued the following executive order addressing the crisis in Venezuela and applying addition sanctions on the regime of Nicolás Maduro:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692 of March 8, 2015, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13808 of August 24, 2017, Executive Order 13827 of March 19, 2018, Executive Order 13835 of May 21, 2018, and Executive Order 13850 of November 1, 2018, particularly in light of actions by persons affiliated with the illegitimate Maduro regime, including human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-Maduro protests, arbitrary arrest and detention of anti Maduro protestors, curtailment of press freedom, harassment of political opponents, and continued attempts to undermine the Interim President of Venezuela and undermine the National Assembly, the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, and to prevent the Interim President and the National Assembly from exercising legitimate authority in Venezuela, hereby order:

Section 1.  (a)  Subsection (d) of section 6 of Executive Order 13692, subsection (d) of section 3 of Executive Order 13808, subsection (d) of section 3 of Executive Order 13827, subsection (d) of section 3 of Executive Order 13835, and subsection (d) of section 6 of Executive Order 13850, are hereby amended to read as follows:

“(d) the term “Government of Venezuela” includes the state and Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela and Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), any person owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the foregoing, and any person who has acted or purported to act directly or indirectly for or on behalf of, any of the foregoing, including as a member of the Maduro regime.”

Sec. 2.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 25, 2019

United States to Impose Steel, Aluminum Tariffs on Mexico, Canada, and European Union

The United States will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, according to the Associated Press.

An ad valorem rate of duty of 25 percent will be levied on affected steel imports and 10 percent on affected aluminum imports.

President Donald Trump originally announced the protectionist tariffs in March, saying that the measures were necessary to protect US national security.

“This relief will help our domestic steel industry to revive idled facilities, open closed mills, preserve necessary skills by hiring new steel workers, and maintain or increase production, which will reduce our Nation’s need to rely on foreign producers for steel and ensure that domestic producers can continue to supply all the steel necessary for critical industries and national defense,” President Trump said in his proclamation announcing the steel tariffs.

The administration specifically excluded Canada and Mexico from the steel and aluminum tariffs saying that the US’s neighbors “present a special case.”

“Given our shared commitment to supporting each other in addressing national security concerns, our shared commitment to addressing global excess capacity for producing aluminum, the physical proximity of our respective industrial bases, the robust economic integration between our countries, the export of aluminum produced in the United States to Canada and Mexico, and the close relation of the economic welfare of the United States to our national security, see 19 U.S.C. 1862(d), I have determined that the necessary and appropriate means to address the threat to the national security posed by imports of aluminum articles from Canada and Mexico is to continue ongoing discussions with these countries and to exempt aluminum articles imports from these countries from the tariff, at least at this time,” President Trump said in his proclamation announcing the aluminum tariffs.

However, it appears that the slow pace of the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations weighed on the administration’s decision.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the NAFTA talks were “taking longer than we had hoped.”

Last year, US imports affected by the tariffs from Canada totaled US$7.2 billion in aluminum and US$2.4 billion in steel, and US$0.5 billion in aluminum and US$1.5 billion in steel from Mexico.

It is unclear if the Trump administration plans to place tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from other US allies.

In a revised proclamation on March 22, President Trump excluded a number of countries from the original tariffs, including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, the EU, and South Korea.

President Trump said in the proclamation that the US “has an important security relationship” with both Argentina and Brazil, including in Latin American security concerns, reciprocal investment in industry, and “strong economic integration.”