By Ted Scouten

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DORAL (CBSMiami) – Vice President Mike Pence was in South Florida Wednesday to meet with members of the Venezuelan exile community concerning the ongoing political crisis in the South American country.

The vice president took part in a listening session at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, joined by Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

“We are with you,” Pence reassured the crowd. “And we will stand with you until democracy is restored in Venezuela!”

Testimonies of established leaders of the Venezuelan diaspora, along with exiled politicians and judges, were heard.

“Venezuela needs a lot of help now,” said one guest. “There’s a lot of people who don’t have anything to eat, don’t have security. And we’re here, we’re trying to help with our hands and prayers. But they need more.”

The situation in Venezuela, which has been escalating over the past few months, was only made worse after a new constituent assembly was sworn in earlier this month.

The constituent assembly is expected to give President Nicolas Maduro sweeping powers.

“We want Mr. Maduro to leave the power. I think it’s enough,” said Morris Di Giovanni, who’s concerned about the direction the country’s been heading in. “We’re going to stand for freedom and civil rights to be respect as well.”

With unrest and violence escalating, Venezuelans living here want to make sure the president understands the importance of TPS, or “Temporary Protected Status,” for Venezuelans feeling their homes.

“It’s very important the Venezuelan people have TPS for to come to this country,” said Venezuelan-American Arlett Sosa. “It’s very bad that people is illegal in this country. It’s very difficult, the life.”

Many are grateful to have the ear of the Trump administration and hope it turns to strong action.

“We’ll continue to act until the Maduro regime holds free and fair elections, releases all political prisoners and ends the repression of the Venezuelan people,” said Pence.


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