Students and community members attempt to filibuster UF SG Senate

Students from the Hispanic Student Association surround Student Body Vice President David Enriquez as he expresses his support for a resolution affirming Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela.

A speaker who identified himself as Omar Omar stood before the Reitz Chamber lectern and declared himself to be the UF Student Body president.

He said this declaration was as ludicrous as UF Student Government Senate supporting a political leader 1,655 miles away.

Ten speakers addressed 85 senators about claims that extending UF’s jurisdiction to international politics is dangerous at Tuesday night’s SG Senate meeting on a proposed resolution recognizing Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela. Despite disagreements, the resolution, a nonbinding statement of agreement, was passed by 79-1.

The speakers said SG does little to help UF and Gainesville and is ignoring its duties by turning its attention to Venezuela.

The names of the student and community leaders could not be verified via the UF Student Directory.

“You all might be the top school in the state, but there’s a lack of history in American exceptionalism,” Omar said. “Shame on you.”

Venezuela has been embroiled in turmoil following claims that the election of Nicolás Maduro in May was fraudulent. Juan Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly, declared himself the interim president until a fair election can be held, according to The Associated Press.

William Sandifer, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, attempted to pass the resolution by unanimous consent.

William Zelin (Inspire, District D) objected to passing the resolution. Zelin said his objection was because of his concerns that the resolution assigned political beliefs to the Senate and Student Body.

Senate Minority Leader Felipe Gatos (Inspire, District D) told the Senate that Zelin’s objection did not represent the Inspire caucus’ beliefs.

A UF student who identified himself as Josh Seattle attempted to present a 50-slide powerpoint about the social and economic climate of Venezuela.

After his allotted 5 minutes were up, he refused to yield his time. Senate President Michael Murphy banged his gavel several times and Senate secretary Clayton Gaulding attempted to escort him away.

“Hands off Venezuela!” Seattle yelled.

A speaker identified as Dean Jean said, “Stay out of Venezuela. Stay out of Latin America. You don’t know what’s going on.”

After the presentations, the speakers attempted to filibuster the meeting at 8:30 p.m. Murphy declared a 15-minute recess.

Upon return, a crowd of about 100 students from the Hispanic Student Association and Student Body President Ian Green gathered in the Reitz Chamber to support the resolution.

One of the authors of the resolution, Mauricio Perez (Impact, Lakeside) addressed the Senate following a 15-minute recess. He said he was one of the only Senators of Venezuelan descent to address the issue and called the claims “illogical” and “ridiculous.”

Student Body Vice President David Enriquez addressed the Senate for the first time this Spring with the crowd behind him. He called this resolution a humanitarian issue.

“Venezuela will be free, and it starts in each and every one of our hearts,” Enriquez said.

Hannah Beatty is a third-year journalism major and sociology minor from Jacksonville, Florida. She began at the Alligator in the fall of 2018 as a general assignment staff writer and now serves as the student government beat reporter.