Despite the fact that liberals are accusing President Trump of shutting down the First Amendment, he’s doing quite the opposite and standing with those who have been imprisoned for political dissension.
On Wednesday night, President Trump hosted Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López. He tweeted out a photo of himself with Tintori, Vice President Pence, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and called for the release of her husband.
While this meeting didn’t generate front page headlines, it’s a tremendous shift from the Obama administration who has been accused of providing unilateral concessions to authoritarian governments like Venezuela and Cuba.
Venezuela is in the middle of a major economic recession due to tanking oil prices and failed socialist policies under President Nicolás Maduro. The country now faces food and medical supply shortages. Their infant mortality rate has even surpassed war-torn Syria.
Ana Quintana, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy, told Red Alert Politics that the President’s approach to the Venezuelan government is a step in the right direction.
“President Trump appears to be following through on a much welcomed campaign pledge,” Quintana said. “For years, the Obama administration allowed the Venezuelan government to commit horrific human rights violations and turn their country into a narco state.”
On Monday, the Treasury Department under newly sworn-in Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced they would be imposing new sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of being a drug lord.
Secretary Mnuchin said during a White House press briefing on Tuesday that these sanctions are intended “to send a clear message to the people of Venezuela that America stands with them.”
When asked how the Trump administration would engage other dictatorships like Cuban President Raúl Castro’s government, Quintana said, “Fixing Obama’s Cuba policy was a major campaign promise. From what Secretary [Rex] Tillerson and Ambassador [Nikki] Haley said during their confirmation hearings, bringing human rights back to the U.S.’s Cuba policy will become actionable policy, something the Obama administration relegated to the back burner.”
President Obama infamously toured the country of Cuba with Castro while thousands of Cuban political dissidents were imprisoned under his regime. He even posed in front of a mural of Che Guevara, who was known for his brutality during the Cuban Revolution.
For Quintana, who is of Cuban descent, Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba was the ultimate betrayal, writing, “My generation understands Cuban reality, and we also feel the pain of what the president has done. Don’t count on our support for “normalization.” We will never betray our parents, or the country of their birth.”