Seventy-five years ago, American soldiers – many of them just barely 18 – stormed the beaches of France or, like my father, parachuted behind enemy lines. My father was lucky to return home from World War II. He certainly didn’t think he would. But he was so proud to serve and he was willing to put his life in harm’s way.
We sent our best and our brightest to Europe, to Africa, to Asia because the world faced an existential threat.
We faced the threat of Nazism, of communism, of totalitarianism in whatever form it took. And we faced the evil and the death that almost always comes with it.
Tens of millions died, including more than 400,000 Americans. Our best and our brightest were struck down on the beaches of Normandy, in the forests of Ardennes, and in the air above Sicily.
We honor the dead and mourn their passing. But we also remember the sacrifice they made for the sake of humanity and world peace in World War II. We fought for freedom in Europe and around the world because we had to and because America stands for freedom. That’s just who we are.
The world has changed in the last 75 years. And yet there are still corners of the world where the fight for freedom continues.
Venezuela is one of those places. I traveled to the Venezuelan border with Colombia recently. I saw death and hunger and poverty up close.
There were Venezuelan children walking for hours each way to go to school in Cucuta just across the border. Mothers and their young children trudged through dense forests and across rivers to get to the USAID facility there so they could get their only meal of the day.
This is a defining human rights issue of our time. Nicolás Maduro is starving his own people. The scale of evil of course does not match the horrors of World War II, but it is evil nonetheless. And innocent people are dying.
And so far, Europe is failing to heed the call for freedom.
A few short weeks ago, I stood on the beaches of Normandy on the anniversary of D-Day to honor the sacrifices freedom-loving people made in support of the cause. The following day, I visited Madrid, Spain where I met with representatives for Interim President Juan Guaidó to various European nations. I also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Spain and senior officials in the Spanish government.
It was clear from these conversations that the European Union, and Spain in particular, could do more to support the cause of freedom in Venezuela.
Spain has close cultural and historical ties with Venezuela. There are more than 250,000 Venezuelans in Spain, many eager to return home but fearing for their safety under Maduro. But the EU and the Spanish government continue to take a back seat in the fight.
European nations often point to their economic interests: they don’t want to lose Cuba as a trading partner or tangle with China, Russia, and Iran with whom they do business.
I say that’s bunk. Children are starving to death in Venezuela, while Maduro and his cronies enrich themselves. The leaders of China, Russia, Cuba, and Iran are active participants in Maduro’s genocide. And European nations are sitting idly by and not doing their part. The fight for freedom and democracy isn’t without cost. But it’s a cost worth paying.
Seventy-five years ago, the United States fought to free Europe. It’s time for Europe to step up and champion the cause of freedom in Venezuela.
To date, The United States has sanctioned more than 100 people and business entities in Venezuela in an effort to cut off funds to the Maduro regime. Europe needs to step up its efforts and show that it is committed to cutting off funds to human rights abusers and to pushing hard for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.
EVERY EU country should join the United States and recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. EVERY EU country should impose significant sanctions on Venezuela and the Maduro Regime.
EVERY EU country should immediately stop doing business with the Cuban regime propping up Maduro and his genocide. And EVERY EU country should demand that Maduro leave power to allow for free, fair, and democratic elections without accepting a Maduro crony or clone to take his place.
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History has shown that at important moments, the world community has the ability to come together, to put our differences aside and fight for the common good. This is one of those moments.
Evil reigns in Venezuela. The people are living under the cruel yoke of tyranny. The freedom-loving countries of the world need to stand up and fight for what’s right. If they do, I believe Venezuela will be free.