Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) on Monday addressed the question of why the crisis in Venezuela is relevant to Americans, saying its important for U.S. national security to support democracy and the security democratic governments bring to nations.
"Number one, I think we always should be on the side of democracy because democracy is morally superior to dictatorship and tyranny," Rubio began. "But the second is it's in our national interest … this is no longer an issue of [just] Venezuela: a million and growing number of migrants now in Colombia are putting tremendous stress on the Colombian health care system and Colombian society."
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Rubio noted similar challenges recently faced in Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador, and how those challenges put pressure on neighboring countries and the entire region.
"What happens is, as these migratory flows continue, it puts stresses on governments, particularly in Columbia, that are already facing other significant challenges," he said.
He explained that individuals displaced by Venezuela's crisis become vulnerable to targeting by narcotics traffickers.
"Any time you have mass migrations and regional crisis in your own hemisphere, it's eventually going to impact you pretty dramatically, not to mention it has a direct impact on our counter-narcotic efforts in Colombia that over the last three years has seen record coca production, much of that cocaine ultimately headed to U.S. streets," Rubio said.
"[A] hemispheric, continental South American collapse of multiple key partners would ultimately impact us directly and immediately. And it already started to," Rubio continued.
Venezuela is in the midst of a constitutional crisis stemming from disputed elections that took place last year. Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term, but National Assembly president Juan Guaido declared himself the rightful leader since the country's constitution permits him to assume temporary power when the president is deemed illegitimate.
The United States, most of Latin America, and the European Union recognize Guaido as interim president, while Russia, China, and Cuba back Maduro.