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As Trump Attacks Maduro, Some See Bid for Florida Votes

February 18, 2019

President Trump, speaking to the Venezuelan community in Miami on Monday, put an overtly political gloss on his administration’s push for Venezuela’s leftist president to step aside, casting that country’s turmoil as a cautionary tale for those who would embrace socialism.

“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,” Mr. Trump said. “This will never happen to us.”...

But what might serve the president’s political goals in the United States might backfire when it comes to foreign policy. At least before the speech in Miami, some administration officials said they were concerned that politicizing the issue at home might actually prop up Mr. Maduro in Venezuela, where he is unpopular even among supporters of Hugo Chávez, the former Venezuelan president who founded the country’s socialist party.

And the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, is hardly a right-wing figure, backing social policies that would likely be considered left of center in the United States.

“The politics are not left and right,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in Washington. “I don’t consider Maduro a leftist. I consider him an authoritarian. This is more about Florida politics.”...

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