The cacophony reverberates beyond WhatsApp. On Oct. 2, Erika de la Vega, a Venezuelan-American TV host and a first-time voter, said on a late-night talk show that she supported the Biden-Harris ticket and likened Mr. Trump to Chávez. The fallout on social media was swift. My Instagram was filled with messages that Ms. de la Vega “doesn’t love Venezuela,” while others declared that supporting Mr. Biden “is the same as supporting Mr. Maduro.”
But Carla Bustillos, who migrated to the United States in 1998 and is vice chair of Venezolanos Con Biden, sees uncomfortable parallels between Mr. Trump and the regime in Caracas. “For Venezuelan-Americans, as soon as you hear someone identify or label the press as the enemy it brings you flashbacks of a terrible nightmare that was Hugo Chávez,” she said. The issues Mr. Biden is campaigning on show that he’s concerned with growing inequality, she told me: “He really wants to offer people a chance at the American dream, and that’s something Venezuelan-Americans identify with.”
Mr. Biden visited Florida for the first time as Democratic nominee in September. He made the case that would be a better president for Latinos, highlighting his commitment to immigration reform and a new plan to support Puerto Rico’s economy. He has also poured $23 million into local TV ads.
But the push may have come too late to regain lost ground. The Trump campaign and its surrogates have made deeper inroads in the neighborhoods that surround me. Like Trump-Pence signs, pseudo political experts have popped up everywhere on social media and traditional outlets like Spanish radio, spreading a hodgepodge of conspiracy theories that tie the Biden campaign to an evil axis of Cuba, Iran, China, George Soros and even Bill Gates.
Venezuelans who can vote in the United States need to see beyond the bluster and look at the way Mr. Trump has treated our community in the United States. Though he has said that “all options are on the table” for Venezuela, he has yet to deliver. Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked legislation that would grant eligible Venezuelans “temporary protected status,” allowing them to live and work legally in the U.S. for a limited time without threat of deportation.
From last October to March nearly half of asylum claims made by Venezuelans were denied, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. What’s more, the Trump administration has deported an unknown number of Venezuelan refugees via third countries, in possible violation of U.S. law and policies.
Those are the facts that should be front and center while making a decision at the polls, not buzzwords like communism and socialism.