March 17, 2019

Following Trip To Colombian-Venezuelan Border, Kaine Calls On U.S., International Community To Support Venezuelan People

Photos of Senator Kaine’s trip can be found here. (Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Colombia)

Video of his interview on Face the Nation can be found here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today on CBS’s Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine spoke about his trip to the Colombian-Venezuelan border where he visited with families forced to flee their homes and met with local officials about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. During his trip, Kaine met with Colombian President Iván Duque and other high level officials to discuss the blockade of aid, the effect of the crisis on Colombia, and how the United States and the international community can support peace, liberty, and democracy in Venezuela. For weeks, Kaine has been raising concerns with the Trump Administration’s loose talk of military action.

Below is an excerpt from the interview:

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are of course in Colombia nearby. What is a country that is really crippled in many ways economically right now, Venezuela. There are about 3 million refugees who have fled, the energy and oil industry is collapsing as is the economy there. What is it that you were going to the border to see? What did you learn?

SEN. KAINE: Well Margaret I wanted to see a couple of things. One, to support the Colombian government because their effort to provide assistance to these millions of venezolanos has been really momentous. But secondly, learn what more the United States can do. We have worked together actually in an accord between the Administration and Congress to provide significant amounts of humanitarian aid, to work together, to pull together a coalition of nations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But as you know, Nicolás Maduro still is in charge of that country whether we like it or not. And these sanctions have not seemingly changed his calculus. The visas, the diplomatic isolation, what is this actually accomplishing at this point?

SEN. KAINE: Well it's giving hope to Venezuelans that there may finally be some change. The question isn't whether Maduro likes it or not, the question is what the Venezuelan people want. And the National Assembly has determined that the election of President Maduro was illegitimate. There needs to be a new government. So what more can we do more?


SEN. KAINE: More humanitarian aid, more work together to pull more nations into our coalition. The sanctions are important. They're having an effect. Sanctions are economic but they're also visa restrictions on Maduro and his cronies as they try to travel abroad. We need to give hope to the Venezuelan people that we stand with them and support them. It's a massive humanitarian crisis driven by one person, Nicolás Maduro, and the Venezuelan people are speaking out and they want something better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Has the Trump administration whose policy you seem to support right now, have they underestimated how strong he is?

SEN. KAINE: I don't know that they've underestimated it. Look, this is- this is not easy. It's a difficult situation. And I do generally support what the Trump administration has done with one exception, I think loose talk about U.S. military action is a big mistake. One, because that's not for the President, it's for Congress. But second, the right strategy here – there's only one person using the military against Venezuelans and it's Maduro. 

Earlier this month, Kaine joined colleagues in a letter to President Trump calling on the Administration to promptly designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuela.