TAMPA, Fla. — Senator Rick Scott met with members of the political organization Casa Venezuela Tampa Bay on Monday to discuss Washington’s ongoing commitment to Venezuelans’ freedom and democracy.

“Maduro's got to step aside. He's a thug, he's a dictator,” Scott said Monday. “He doesn't care about his citizens, to put blocks to make sure humanitarian aid can't come in to keep his citizens safe? It’s terrible.” 

Scott briefed Casa Venezuela Tampa Bay leaders on the continued U.S. commitment to fight for Venezuelans’ rights.

He mentioned strengthening oil sanctions after someone raised concerns about a loophole that allows some companies to continue selling and doing business with the Venezuelan oil industry. 

“We're looking to see what kind of loopholes there are, and see if we can get those eliminated,” Scott said. 

The topic of possibly granting temporary protected status for Venezuelans seeking asylum was also discussed. 

“The problem with all this stuff is that Congress just sits on their hands and doesn't fix anything, so I’m going to continue to push to get something done,” Scott told leaders. 

Bringing continued awareness of crisis

“These moments are very important for Venezuela,” said Casa Venezuela president Norma Reno. “They need a word of hope and somebody telling them that the end is coming, to keep resisting, that's what we have to do.” 

The group is playing a key role in bringing continued awareness to the crisis on both the state and federal level. They've held several rallies in recent weeks, showing support for interim president Juan Guaido and denouncing the Maduro regime. 

“I had the opportunity to go to Miami and meet with Vice President Mike Pence. I suggested that he come meet with us,” said the organization’s vice president, Leon Granado. 

Casa Venezuela members also expressed wanting to see continued humanitarian efforts from the U.S.

“Once Maduro is gone, we are facing a country that has been destroyed by the regime, and I think everybody needs to be on our side in helping us,” Reno said. 

Casa Venezuela members want to meet with other Florida lawmakers next, particularly U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who is known for his focus on Latin American policy.