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As Venezuela's Guaidó faces threat of arrest, Ron DeSantis says it would be "big, big mistake"

VZ presser
Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuela interim President Juan Guiado, speaks in the Governor's Mansion on Tuesday flanked by Gov. Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. Emily L. Mahoney | Times/Herald

TALLAHASSEE — On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuela's interim President Juan Guaidó, met in the Governor's Mansion to hold a press conference — only to be delayed by an emerging safety "situation" in Venezuela.

The 20-minute delay only underscored the ever-changing nature of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, a country where Rosales said death and hunger have become the norm. She did not expand on what Tuesday's "situation" entailed, but the governor's office confirmed it was related to Guaidó's safety.

"In Venezuela today there isn't electricity, there isn't food, there isn't medicine. And our children are dying every second," she said in Spanish. Throughout the event, she bit her lip and appeared nervous. "Today, Venezuelans live in danger. Today, the life of the President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó is in danger."

She was in Tallahassee meeting with both DeSantis and lawmakers. Florida is home to America's largest community of Venezuelan exiles, a fact that state leaders have said underscores their commitment to helping those in crisis in Venezuela as Guaidó seeks to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

Gov. DeSantis said there are "rumors" that Guaidó could be arrested by authorities controlled by Maduro, something he said President Donald Trump would not take lightly.

"I can tell you having spoken with the president about this very subject multiple times, that would be a big deal for him and I think he's shown he's willing to follow up his words with action," DeSantis said. "To arrest (Rosales') husband —and God knows what they would do after that — that would be a big, big mistake." 

Rumors of Guaidó's arrest have been swirling for months, but intensified Monday when Venezuela's chief justice asked lawmakers to strip Guaidó of immunity, taking a step toward prosecuting him for alleged crimes.

Casey DeSantis offered her "full support" in helping with humanitarian matters, while the governor and Nuñez pledged Florida's support for Guaidó. 

"As the daughter of Cuban immigrants I understand all too well the plight of the Venezuelan people," Nuñez said. Florida is "going to lead the nation in making sure they understand that we stand with democracy. We stand with freedom. And we stand with the true president of Venezuela." 

The leaders did not take questions from reporters, citing concerns for Guaidó's safety. The press conference coincided with Vice President Mike Pence's meeting in Washington with families of six Citgo executives — five of whom are U.S. citizens — who have been detained by the Maduro government in Venezuela.

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