EXCLUSIVE: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is in Florida on Tuesday, meeting with Venezuelan American business leaders and activists, as he urges President Biden not to relax oil sanctions on Venezuela.
With domestic gas prices soaring, in part due to the president’s recent banning of Russian oil imports following Moscow’s deadly invasion of neighboring Ukraine, White House and State Department officials traveled to Caracas earlier this month to meet with Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro, in a potential effort to secure alternative oil supplies.
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But Hogan, in a statement shared first with Fox News, will argue while in Florida that “the energy crisis cannot be solved by robbing the people of Venezuela of their dreams of freedom. That’s not what America stands for. Maduro makes common cause with Putin because he is a vicious dictator, not an American ally.”
Hogan will make his comments at an event with the Venezuelan American leaders at the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami, which is dedicated to the memory of the ill-fated 1961 CIA-backed attack in the southwestern coast of Cuba by Cuban exiles in the U.S. who opposed Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. Hogan will also meet with former Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and other Republicans at a separate event at the InterAmerican Institute for Democracy, a pro-democracy think tank in Miami.
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“I hope my presence here today sends a clear message that the people of Maryland stand with the people of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and everyone who yearns for freedom and democracy across Latin America,” Hogan emphasized in his statement.
Florida Republicans earlier this month were quick to criticize the president over the talks with Maduro to potentially ease the sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports to the U.S. But administration officials countered that any new authorization would depend on whether Maduro takes new political steps, including possibly resuming negotiations with the Venezuelan opposition leaders and releasing more jailed Americans in the country.
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The term limited Hogan, who’s finishing up his eighth and final year as Maryland governor, has called on the Biden administration to reverse its energy decisions, and last weke noted that he was first governor this year to suspend his state’s gas tax – to help motorists dealing with skyrocketing prices at the pumps.
Hogan’s seen by political pundits as a potential contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. And the governor, a vocal Republican critic of former President Donald Trump, early last month appeared to leave the door wide open to a possible White House run.
In announcing that he would not make a run this year for the Senate, the governor said that his decision “does not mean that I plan to sit on the sidelines when it comes to the serious challenges facing our country and our democracy. I’m going to continue to call it like I see it, and I’ll keep speaking out about the divisiveness and dysfunction in Washington and about fixing the broken politics.”
And looking ahead, Hogan noted that “my current job as governor runs until January 2023, and then we’ll take a look and see what the future holds after that.”
The trip to Miami, with the emphasis on energy and foreign policy, will only stoke more 2024 speculation regarding Hogan. And the Bay of Pigs Museum, Hogan’s second stop on Tuesday, has some presidential campaign history. Trump visited the museum in October 2016, a month before his election as president.