President Donald Trump will review the advance of a counternarcotics operation in the Caribbean in a visit to the U.S. Southern Command in Doral on Friday.
According to the White House, the trip aims to highlight “his Administration’s relentless, whole-of-government approach to curb the trafficking of drugs into our country.”
In April, Trump announced an enhanced counternarcotics operation in the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific near Central America.
“We are deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft and helicopters, Coast Guards cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region,” he said at a press conference at the White House.
The operation has resulted in significant seizures of narcotics totaling more than $1 billion.
But the visit to Doral, home to the largest Venezuelan community in the U.S., is also a nod to his Latin American policy, since the military operation was also announced as an attempt to cut the funds going to the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela.
Maduro and several close allies were indicted by the Department of Justice under drug trafficking charges in March. And U.S. officials believe a group of regime officials are part of the Cartel de los Soles, which has been using routes through the Caribbean and Central America to ship drugs out of Venezuela.
The trip to South Florida also comes after Trump recently made comments about considering a meeting with Maduro, which angered many Venezuelans. The president later said he would meet the Venezuelan strongman only to discuss his exit from power in Caracas.
The White House and the Trump campaign did not say if there was a campaign event scheduled during his visit to Miami. The president is lagging in the polls in Florida, where Hispanic voters make almost 20 percent of the electorate.
After the Miami Herald reported on the visit, the Florida Democratic Party released a critical statement calling Trump’s trip to Doral “a photo op.”
“If he really cares about the Venezuelan community he should halt the deportation and detention of those fleeing the Maduro dictatorship, and stop his attacks on the asylum system on which many Venezuelan refugees depend,” state Democratic Party spokeswoman Luisana Perez Fernandez said.
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