On Wednesday, the U.S. House voted to extend sanctions on the Maduro regime in Venezuela for another three years with members of the Florida delegation leading the charge.
Originally sponsored by Florida Republican Marco Rubio and New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez in the Senate, the sanctions target “government officials and others in Venezuela who violate human rights, suppress political opposition, and commit violence against peaceful protestors.”
The sanctions now extend until the end of 2019. Having signed the first round of sanctions back in 2014, President Barack Obama is expected to back this latest effort as well.
“I am proud that Congress has once again stood with the Venezuelan people by extending these sanctions, and now the Obama administration must do its part by fully implementing this law against the many human rights violators in the Maduro regime,” Rubio said on Wednesday. “As the despicable Maduro regime continues to violate the rights of its own people, it is our duty as a country to continue to do everything we can to address the catastrophe that has become Venezuela. By extending these sanctions, we are reinforcing our commitment to those innocent people in our hemisphere who are subject to the abuses of the Maduro regime. I call on President Obama to fully implement these sanctions and use all the tools at his disposal, including financial sanctions as well as visa bans, to hold those responsible for human rights violations in Venezuela accountable for their actions.”
“For far too long, the international community has neglected the growing conditions that could bring Venezuela – a failed state in the waiting – again to the brink of widespread civil unrest,” said Menendez. “I believe that it’s only American leadership that will spark the meaningful international reaction that could reverse the profound violations of human rights and systemic abuses of authority that characterize Maduro’s grip on power. With the extension of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, we have taken one small step. I urge our partners and allies in the Hemisphere and around the world to adopt similar measures to pressure the Maduro regime and to stand strong together in support of Venezuela’s civil society.”
In the House, the chief sponsor was South Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She made the case for the sanctions on Wednesday.
"In 2014, I worked with my colleagues in Congress to pass the Venezuelan sanctions law that is set to expire later this year but with this new bill that Congress passed today, we would extend those sanction authorities for three more years until 2019,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “As the Venezuelan people are deprived of liberty, protest the lack of food or necessary supplies available, and live through a deteriorating economy, we should keep up the pressure on the oppressors by freezing assets and removing visas of human rights violators in Maduro’s regime. As we send this bill to the White House for signature, I once again urge President Obama to add more names to the list of those sanctioned in order to fight for democracy in Venezuela."
The bill was co-sponsored by four members of the Florida delegation: Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrats Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
"I am pleased Congress has once again reaffirmed its commitment to human rights and democracy around the world by passing an extension to the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act,” Diaz-Balart said on Wednesday. “As the Maduro regime continues to subvert democratic institutions, rule of law, and civil society, Congress will continue to stand with the people of Venezuela in pressing for fundamental rights and liberties by ensuring that those who commit human rights abuses face consequences.
"After the recent celebration of Venezuela's Independence Day, the Venezuelan people mark 205 years free from Spanish rule,” Diaz-Balart added. “Today, the American people stand with them as they press to regain their hard-won freedoms and rid themselves of the Maduro plague."