Gov. Rick Scott Monday announced proposed legislation to prohibit the state, including all agencies, from investing in any company that is doing business with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s government.
The proposal comes six weeks after the state’s State Board of Administration, which maintains the Florida Retirement System and its $150 billion in assets, voted to reaffirm that they would not invest in any companies or securities controlled by the Venezuelan government.
“In Florida, we have been absolutely clear: The brutal government of Nicolas Maduro must end and the people of Venezuela must be given total freedom and democracy now,” Scott said while speaking at the 2017 Latin American Summit in Miami.
Scott said he also was calling on all local governments and businesses in the state to stop doing business with the Maduro government, if they currently are.
“Let me be clear: This proposal is aimed squarely at the Maduro regime, not businesses who provide much needed goods and services to the Venezuelan people,” Scott said.
Scott has been unrelenting of his criticism towards Maduro — a trait familiar in the Trump administration, the Vatican, and other governments around the world — accusing him of undermining Venezuela’s democracy and plunging the country’s 30 million people into suffering due to food and medicine shortage.
In the past few months, Maduro has arrested and detained opposition leaders, and cracked down on street protests with lethal force.
In July he oversaw a disputed election for a special legislative body that took over the country’s parliament, ignoring a citizens referendum held in Venezuela and across the country that opposed that move.
More than 100,000 Venezuelan-Americans live in Florida, and the troubles there have captured the focus of Scott and Florida’s two U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.
Scott is expected to challenge Nelson’s bid for re-election to his Senate seat next year.
Nelson has gone as far as to call for cutting imports of Venezuela oil as a response to Maduro’s actions.
Maduro called on his nation’s military leaders last week to prepare for war against the U.S., days after the Trump administration banned Venezuelan officials from entering the nation.