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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – Several South Florida lawmakers met with local leaders from the Venezuelan community to discuss what can be done about the humanitarian and political crisis happening now under President Nicolas Maduro.

During the discussion, there was a sense of optimism since Democrats had regained control of the US House of Representatives and would do more to help the worsening situation.

Since Maduro took control five years ago, Venezuela has spiraled downward, from food shortages and lack of health care to crumbling transportation systems. Most of the people there live in poverty, millions have fled.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who hosted the meeting at her Sunrise office, was joined by newly elected Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and local activists who discussed how to make the most impact on the government-run state.

“From taking businesses away from business owners, they are threatening the lives of their people. I know I have friends and neighbors who have feared and fled Venezuela because they feared for their children literally being kidnapped out of the yards of their schools,” said Wasserman Schultz.

“Here in this meeting today we heard words like ‘humanitarian emergency’ so we are no longer talking about a crisis,” said activist Liz Alarcon. “We also heard about a Venezuelan holocaust. These words seem like hyperbole but they are not.”

Wasserman Schultz is one of three lawmakers to introduce legislation last week on the Venezuela Humanitarian Relief, Reconstruction, and Rule of Law Act 2018.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio recently co-introduced legislation, with Sen. Bob Menendez, to support displaced Venezuelans living in the United States. “The Venezuela Temporary Protected Status and Asylum Assistance Act of 2018 seeks to grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans fleeing the regime,” said Rubio’s office.

Mucarsel-Powell said what she plans to concentrate on is getting an immigration bill passed in the first 100 days of Congress.


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