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US President Donald Trump appears to be narrowing Mr Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania – a swing state both campaigns view as an important path to the White House in the 2020 election. According to the latest polls, the Republican is four points behind the Democratic challenger in a state he won four years ago, with campaign manager Bill Stepien reportedly telling staffers that Mr Trump has the “momentum” as the race enters its final two weeks. But, Mr Biden continues to lead in most nationwide opinion polls, with Florida opening early voting yesterday and recording 350,000 ballots cast as torrential rain hammered down.
Recent polls show Mr Trump and Mr Biden virtually tied in the state, in which the Latino vote could prove costly for the former Vice President.
Venezuelan-born actress Lilibeth Morillo donned a “Keep America Great” hat and face mask during a recent “Latinos for Trump” rally in Doral, the hub of Miami’s Venezuelan community.
Writing on Instagram after the event, she explained: “Do you know why I support Trump? Because he is literally the wall of contention between communism and the world.”
Ms Morillo is one of many Venezuelan-Americans hoping the President is re-elected, as a number of Venezuelans in Doral who support Mr Trump over fears that his rival will “take the US towards socialism”.
They claim his “Build Back Better” economic plan would create a crisis similar to the one that forced many of them to flee their homeland.
But others are rooting instead for Mr Biden because they say they see an authoritarian and anti-democratic streak in the US President that reminds them of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and his successor, President Nicolas Maduro.
The Venezuelan presidential crisis remains unresolved and who holds the office has been disputed since the opposition-majority National Assembly declared that Mr Maduro’s 2018 re-election was invalid and appointed its president, Juan Guaido, to be acting president of the country.
Starting in June, however, it has been claimed that the Maduro regime orchestrated moves to disqualify party leaders, install its own supporters into key roles in three major opposition parties – including Mr Guaido’s.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) passed a June 26 resolution rejecting the moves and the legitimacy of the December elections.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hoping Mr Maduro is successful.
The Trump administration’s bid to replace Mr Maduro hit a roadblock after a meeting with Russian officials in Rome last year.
US envoy Elliott Abrams arrived at the Westin Excelsior hotel hoping to persuade Russia to withdraw its support and to recognise Mr Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
But Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov instead demanded the US backed down from military threats and lift the economic sanctions intended to force Mr Maduro’s hand.
In the months that followed, the US ramped up sanctions, but they were undermined by Russia, Cuba, Turkey and India – who helped support Venezuela, according to officials in both the US and Venezuelan opposition activists.
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Amid the crisis, 96 percent of families in Venezuela were living in poverty at the close of 2019, including 80 percent in extreme poverty, according to a national survey released by a local university.
More worryingly, the country is under-equipped for the coronavirus pandemic, as barely half of the virus-dedicated hospitals have regular running water.
The severe crisis experienced by Venezuela led to an exponential increase in the number of migrants arriving in the US, and particularly in Florida, during the last decade.
Both Mr Trump and Mr Biden have tried to appeal to those voters by strongly criticising the Maduro administration – referring to the leader as a “dictator”.
From the White House, Mr Trump has been a strong supporter of Mr Guaido.
That stance is appearing to play well in the Sunshine State – where two out of every three Venezuelans support Mr Trump, according to a University of North Florida poll published in early September.
Venezuelans are thought to be among the Latino migrant communities growing fastest in the US.
In 2018 that there were 492,000 persons of Venezuelan ancestry in the country, a 529 percent increase compared to the 93,000 who lived there in 2000, according to the Pew Research Centre.
Head of demographic research and global migration at Pew, Mark Hugo Lopez, told the BBC that within this group, there are around 169,000 Venezuelan-Americans with the right to vote in the US,
Carolina Tejera, a member of the Venezuelan-American Republican Alliance, said: “I am living a deja vu.
“After witnessing the destruction of Venezuela I am seeing this in the US.
“Socialism is the anaesthesia for the introduction of communism.
“All of Biden’s discourse is entirely communist. It is the far left. It is the same I listened to from Chavez. Biden is a Trojan horse. He will ally himself with Maduro.”
But, Mr Biden strongly denies these claims.
On a campaign trip to Wisconsin, Mr Biden was asked in an interview with a local television station, WLUK, to address voters “worried about socialism”.
He said: “I beat the socialist.
“That’s how I got elected. That’s how I got the nomination.
“Do I look like a socialist? Look at my career — my whole career. I am not a socialist.”
Mr Biden was referring to Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who he defeated to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.
President Trump and his campaign have tried to tie Mr Biden to the left-wing of the Democratic Party, arguing he would advance their goals, despite his long career as a politician in the mainstream of the party.
Instead, he gravitates towards the more business-friendly wing of the party, as his voting record proves.
As Senator for the state of Delaware, he has either sponsored or voted in favour of financial deregulation and trade deals, bolstering US capitalism.
At his core, Mr Biden sits among some of the least radical members of the Democratic Party.
But, the die may have already been cast for many Latin Americans.
Fernand Amandi, a Miami pollster and expert on the US Hispanic vote, said Venezuelan-Americans could have a decisive impact in Florida, where some 50,000 US citizens of Venezuelan origin are registered to vote.
Mr Amandi recalled the 2000 presidential election, in which George W Bush’s victory in the state by 537 votes was enough to deliver him the White House.
With that in mind, he concluded: “Any sub-group of voters could be determinant.”
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