It began with polls showing a growing number of Americans supporting socialism and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an unabashed socialist, being called "the future" of the Democratic Party by DNC Chair Tom Perez. Now, with Bernie Sanders within striking distance of becoming the Democratic 2020 nominee, many Hispanics living in the United States are horrified at the prospect of a socialist rising to the country's highest office.
While some members of the media go to great lengths to argue that U.S. democratic socialists are different than Latin American leftists, some Venezuelan-Americans see little difference between the two. As they watch their native homeland fall apart from afar, they are now turning their attention to the 2020 race for the White House and warning Americans of the horrors of socialism.
'We thought what happened in Cuba would never happen to us'
Reached by telephone on Sunday, Daniel DiMartino, a young activist, told TheBlaze how many of his fellow countrymen were fooled by the late Hugo Chavez into believing the country was poorer than it actually was.
"We were able to put food on the table, work hard, and pay for what we wanted. We were rich but didn't know it," DiMartino said.
He added, "I don't want Americans to wake up one day and find themselves saying the same thing."
Meanwhile, Victor Perez, a Venezuelan-American finance executive in Miami, Fla., told TheBlaze that too many voters in the U.S. are allowing themselves to be misled by the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"We were too arrogant to pay attention and we thought what happened in Cuba would never happen to us — we were wrong," Perez said while noting that he sees troubling parallels between the rationale of chavistas in Venezuela and the reasoning of American supporters of Sanders and other socialists.
"I'm now seeing the same arrogance from Bernie Sanders' backers and so-called 'democratic socialists' that we had. They say 'oh, but we have checks and balances that wouldn't allow that to happen.' You know who else thought that? We did! The same Venezuelans who are now searching through trash to find food," he said.
'Bernie Sanders is your enemy'
These sentiments were echoed in Washington, D.C. last last year when hundreds of Venezuelan expats gathered for a "Venezuela Freedom Rally" in the nation's capital.
According to Campus Reform, which covered the event, attendees were deeply troubled that so many Americans view socialism favorably.
"Bernie Sanders is your enemy. Do not ever, ever get involved with this individual or any of the other socialists," said one man, who added: "You do not ever want anyone even close to socialism to come to this country."
Another young woman said that while socialism promises to help the poor, it eventually fails them.
"People are eating from trash bags in the streets, so how has socialism actually helped the country?" she said, referring to the food shortages in the South American country.
"Check your history, look at the news. Look at all the countries that have failed under a socialist government, like Cuba, like Venezuela," another rally-goer noted.
Meanwhile, a young woman said that Americans should not fool themselves into believing that socialism cannot happen in the United States. "We also thought that this could never happen in our country. We had a balance of powers. We had democracy and we elected our leaders," she said while draped in a Venezuelan flag.
"In Venezuela, there is no food, no medicine, education. No, nothing, nothing," another woman stated.