Florida politicians call on Obama to protect Venezuelan activists

emonstrator holds a placard as she stands in front of national guards during a protest near the Cuba's Embassy in CaracasBy Zachary Fagenson and and David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) – In response to mounting anti-government protests in Venezuela, Florida politicians are calling on the Obama administration to grant political asylum for people who have fled the South American nation, as well as sanctions against officials responsible for the violence. U.S. Representative Joe Garcia said Venezuelans living in the United States deserve special consideration as they are a “target” of the Venezuelan government, which blames the United States in part for the unrest that in recent weeks has killed at least 13 people. “To ask these people to return when we know there is credible fear of persecution … is unjust,” he told a news conference at Miami International Airport on Tuesday, accompanied by several Venezuelan exile activists. Florida is home to more than 100,000 Venezuelan immigrants, according to the U.S. census, and the population has grown steadily since the country elected a Socialist government in 1998, first under president Hugo Chavez and last year his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

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