MIAMI (CBSMiami) — President Donald Trump surprised millions of Venezuelans as he introduced surprise guest, Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó during his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
It happened at 9:26 p.m. when President Trump said, “We are once again standing up for freedom in our hemisphere.”
“That is why my administration reversed the failing policies of the previous administration on Cuba.”
“We are supporting the hopes of Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans to restore democracy, the US is leading a 59 nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.”
“Maduro is an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people, but Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken.”
President Trump then brought Democrats and Republicans together in standing ovation as he proceeded to say these words, “Here this evening is a very brave man who carries with him the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all Venezuelans. Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.”
“Mr. President, please take this message back to your country,” said Trump. “Please take this message back that all Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.”
Everyone inside the US House of Representatives, including Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, stood and applauded. President Guaidó stood up and thanked those in attendance, particularly President Trump, with a motion of his hand.
The reaction from Venezuelans on Facebook and on Twitter was one of joy, surprise, and overwhelming pride.
One man who lives in Venezuela and who did not want to be identified, for fear of repercussions, said, “This is the greatest moment for Venezuela and for the millions of us who struggle every single day under the Nicolas Maduro regime.”
Yet another Venezuelan said, “I was watching and I was so proud to hear Guaidó’s name. It filled me with pride to have your president honored in the cradle of the government of the United States, in something that is of such importance, as is the State of the Union of the United States of America.” “Not everyone gets that honor.”
The sentiment was echoed by most Venezuelans, who were quickly giving their approval to what they were calling a “great honor.”
At least one Venezuelan said he was not so optimistic, pointing out that for the past 61 years, US presidents had made similar promises to Cuban exiles who fought against Fidel and Raul Castro’s tyranny on the island nation, just 90 miles away from the US mainland.
President Guaidó tweeted this after President Trump’s address:
“We are united, President @realDonaldTrump!”
“I take with me the compromise and support of the US in our struggle for freedom in Venezuela.”
“Thank you, Mr. President (Trump) and thanks to the people of the US, in the name of the millions of Venezuelans who remain standing in the struggle.”
Over 50 nations, including the US, have recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
During the 22 years since the Nicolas Maduro regime and Hugo Chavez before him has been in power, nearly 5 million Venezuelans have fled their South American nation, according to United Nations agencies. Many on foot.
They have fled hunger, hyperinflation, crime, and corruption. The local economy, under Maduro, has collapsed and shortages of food and medicines have become widespread.
President Guaidó held a rally in Miami this past Saturday to meet with Venezuelan exiles.
During his speech, he urged those in attendance to stay together and positive about the struggle for freedom in their homeland.
President Guaidó has started his second year as President of Venezuela with a campaign to oust socialist Maduro and has been on an international tour gathering support for the cause of ‘freedom in Venezuela.’
The US marked the last stop for the Venezuelan leader. President Guaidó’s tour included visits to Colombia, Europe, and Canada, where he held meetings with world leaders.