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Florida Delegation Urges Quick Action on Venezuelan Sanctions Bill

May 28, 2014 - 6:00pm
This week, the U.S. House unanimously passed a bill taking aim at the leadership of the Venezuelan regime, and the legislation had a distinct Florida feel.

The Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act was introduced by a host of Florida congressmen including Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Democrats Corrine Brown, Ted Deutch, Joe Garcia, Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy. The bill denies Venezuelan leaders visas to enter the U.S., freezes their assets in America, urges President Barack Obama to report to Congress with a plan on supporting Internet freedom and access of information for Venezuela and enables American representatives at the Organization of American States (OAS) to push back against the Venezuelan regime. The House passed the bill without opposition on Wednesday.

Diaz-Balart insisted on Wednesday that the bill was needed in light of current events.

For the past 15 years, the people of Venezuela have experienced the corruption and brutality of the Chavez-Maduro dictatorship, and within the last three months, that has culminated in serious acts of violence and aggression toward students and others, said Diaz-Balart. These students and their supporters were peacefully protesting the corruption, food shortages, soaring crime rates, and alarming repression that have worsened during Maduros rule. In return, they have seen more than 3,000 people arrested, hundreds injured, and more than 40 people killed. It is time to put an end to the oppression, violence, and political intimidation and hold these human rights abusers accountable. Those complicit with egregious acts of human rights violations must be named and shamed, and should face the consequences of their actions.

On the other side of the aisle, Deutch insisted the bill sends a strong message to President Maduro and his cronies that the United States will not stand idly by as the people of Venezuela are brutalized for exercising their most basic freedoms.

Deutch took aim at the Maduro regime in his comments. There is no legitimate justification for the violent tactics used by Maduros security forces against nonviolent, unarmed protesters, Deutch said. The Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Act will enhance our ability to sanction regime officials we know to be actively involved in the repression, intimidation, imprisonment, and torture of innocent Venezuelans.

The bill now heads to the Senate and Diaz-Balart urged the chamber to move quickly to pass it.

With the passage of this bill, the United States House of Representatives is standing in solidarity with the Venezuelan people as they struggle to regain democracy and freedom from the Maduro regime, Diaz-Balart said. I urge the Senate to move this bill quickly to the presidents desk.

The legislation is being backed by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the upper chamber and he called for quick action.

The House has taken an important step to call attention to the gross human rights violations being committed in Venezuela by Maduro regime officials and sanctioning those responsible, Rubio said. The full Senate should also move on Venezuela sanctions legislation when it returns next week.

We are now approaching the four-month mark since Venezuelan students took to the streets to demand a better future and their fundamental rights, only to be met with violent and even deadly force by the Maduro regime, Rubio added. Sanctions on the individuals responsible are long overdue.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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