Biden says would protect Venezuelans in US, change Cuba policy


Biden says would protect Venezuelans in US, change Cuba policy

Friday, October 30, 2020

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COCONUT CREEK, United States (AFP) — Joe Biden said yesterday he would grant protection against deportation for Venezuelans and change Washington's Cuba policy if he wins the White House, highlighting a contrast with President Donald Trump as they both campaigned for Hispanic votes in Florida.

The veteran Democrat leads in national polling, but is neck and neck with Trump in the swing state days before the November 3 election.

Former vice-president Biden branded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a “thug” and said it was unconscionable that the Trump Administration has deported hundreds of Venezuelans and Cubans “back to their dictatorships”.

Trump “won't even grant temporary protective status for Venezuelans fleeing the oppressive regime of Maduro, whom I've met with and he's a thug,” Biden said. “Folks, I will.”

Bipartisan legislation that would protect approximately 200,000 Venezuelan nationals passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives last year but has languished in the Senate, and the Trump Administration has been criticised for not taking action.

“He doesn't care about Cuban and Venezuelan people,” Biden said during a campaign stop at Broward College near Miami, which is home to a large Latino immigrant population.

The tough talk is not entirely new — but it comes as Biden seeks to win over Hispanic voters in Florida, a state absolutely critical to Trump's re-election hopes.

“If Florida goes blue, it's over!” Biden said.

Across the state in Tampa, Trump told a raucous outdoor rally that Biden “betrayed” Hispanics during his long career in Washington.

“I've always loved them, and I think they've always loved me,” the president said.

Cuban-Americans make up the largest group of Hispanic voters in Florida, and historically they have leaned conservative.

Biden said it was time for “a new Cuba policy”, saying the country “is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago”.

But he did not elaborate on changes, perhaps a sign he is hesitant to make sensitive policy pronouncements before the election.

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