Student from Venezuela fears for his safety if he is forced to return

Marcos Torres moved to the United States from Venezuela in 2015. The 33-year-old, who is a friend of mine, is here legally on a student visa studying English, but fears for his family back home.

"We want to get rid of Maduro because he's a dictator. Right now we have several days without water, without electricity without medicine, we don't feel safe in Venezuela," Marcos said. "The people in Venezuela, they don't feel safe."

President Trump is backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has proclaimed himself interim president.

Marcos said he and the majority of Venezuelans support the removal of Nicolás Maduro, who has served as President since 2013.

"Also we need change right now and Juan Guaidó is a real change because he's trying to change all the things in Venezuela right now. He's trying to work all together to resolve a lot of problems that we have," Marcos said. "The first problem we have right now is the medicine. People are dying. We don't have any medicine, the hospital doesn't work because we don't have electricity and it's a crisis, it's bad."

Marcos knows firsthand about what he calls an abuse of power in his native country. He told us he was he was kidnapped and held for ransom by Venezuelan police for nine hours in February 2014. He believes he was targeted because of his wealth. Marcos owned a popular nightclub when he was just 27. 

Marcos said he was scared he was going to die because the police held him at gunpoint while they drove him around the city for hours.

This week, the U.S announced sanctions against the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, which means cutting off a vital source of income for the South American country. The sanctions are aimed at increasing pressure on Maduro to give up his power.

Marcos said he feels the situation happening in Venezuela will strengthen his application for political asylum. He plans and hopes to make the U.S. his permanent home.