Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced a Senate Resolution deploring the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Venezuela, calling for full accountability for human rights violations, and supporting the right of the Venezuelan people to live freely and democratically.
“This action sends an unequivocal message by condemning the violence perpetrated against innocent Venezuelans by President Maduro, Venezuelan security forces, and armed pro-government supporters," said Chairman Robert Menendez. "Now is the time to pursue a course of targeted sanctions by denying and revoking visas, and freezing the assets of Venezuelan officials complicit in the deaths of peaceful protestors. Human rights violators should be held accountable for the crimes they committed and their presence should not be welcome in our nation. Venezuelans today are denied basic rights, freedoms, and the ability to peacefully protest the dire economic circumstances caused by President Maduro and his government. We stand with the Venezuelan people and the brave opposition leaders in their pursuit to build a more hopeful Venezuela that embraces a bright future while discarding a failed past."
“With the Venezuelan people struggling and sacrificing for freedom, liberty and human rights, they deserve to have their voices be heard, and they deserve the world’s leading defender of human rights to be on their side,” Rubio said. “Nicolás Maduro and his thugs must be held accountable for the atrocities committed against the people of Venezuela, including unjust incarcerations, violent repression and killing of innocent protestors.
“This Resolution urges President Obama to immediately impose targeted sanctions that are already possible under existing law and encourage a process of dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the political opposition,” Rubio added. “It is time for the United States to support the Venezuelan people’s pursuit of a safe and democratic way of life, as guaranteed under their constitution.”
The full text of the resolution is below:
Resolution deploring the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela, calling for full accountability for human rights violations taking place in Venezuela, and in support of the Venezuelan people’s right for the free and peaceful exercise of representative democracy
Whereas the Government of Venezuela’s chronic mismanagement of its economy has produced inflation that exceeds 50 percent annually, currency shortages, economic distortions, and the routine absence basic goods and foodstuffs.
Whereas the Government of Venezuela’s failure to guarantee minimal standards of public security for its citizens has led the country to become one of the most violent in the world, with the per capita homicide rate in the city of Caracas exceeding 115 per 100,000 people.
Whereas the Government of Venezuela has taken continued steps to remove checks and balances on the executive, politicize the judiciary, undermine the independence of the legislature through use of executive decree powers, persecute and prosecute its political opponents, curtail freedom of the press, and limit the free expression of its citizens.
Whereas on January 23rd, 2014 National Representative Maria Corina Machado and Mr. Leopoldo López, leader of the political party “Popular Will”, among others, called on the Venezuelan people to gather on street assemblies and debate a popular, democratic and constitutional “ way out” of Venezuela’s crisis of governability.
Whereas since February 4, 2014, the people of Venezuela - responding to ongoing economic hardship, high levels of crime and violence, and the lack of basic political rights and individual freedoms – have turned out in demonstrations in Caracas and throughout the country to protest the Government of Venezuela’s inability to ensure the political and economic well-being of its citizens.
Whereas the government of Nicolás Maduro responded to the mass demonstrations by ordering the arrest without evidence of senior opposition leaders, including Mr. Leopoldo Lopez, Carlos Vecchio, and Antonio Rivero, and by violently repressing peaceful demonstrators with the help of the Venezuelan National Guard and groups of armed, government-affiliated civilians, known as ‘collectives’;
Whereas, on February 18, 2014, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez turned himself in to Venezuelan authorities, was arrested, and charged unjustly with criminal incitement, conspiracy, arson, and intent to damage property;
Whereas the Maduro government has sought to censor information about the demonstrations and the government’s violent crackdown by blocking online images and threatening the few remaining uncensored domestic media outlets;
Whereas Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro threatened to expel the United States news network CNN from Venezuela and has taken off the air the Colombian news channel NTN 24, which transmits in Venezuela, after news outlets reported on the nation-wide protests;
Whereas the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a statement on February 14, 2014, which `expresses its concern over the serious incidents of violence that have taken place in the context of protest demonstrations in Venezuela, as well as other complaints concerning acts of censorship against media outlets, attacks on organizations that defend human rights, and acts of alleged political persecution'
Whereas, as of February 27, 2014, there have been 13 people killed, over 100 injured, and dozens have been unjustly detained due to pro-democracy demonstrations throughout Venezuela: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the Senate,
(1) Reaffirms U.S. support for the people of Venezuela in their pursuit of the free exercise of representative democracy as guaranteed by the Venezuelan constitution and defined under the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the Organization of American States;
(2) Deplores the use of excessive and unlawful force against peaceful demonstrators, and the inexcusable use of violence and politically-motivated criminal charges to intimidate the country's political opposition;
(3) Calls on the Government of Venezuela to disarm and dismantle the system of ‘colectivos’ or ‘collectives’, and any other government-affiliated or supported militias or vigilante groups;
(4) Calls on the Government of Venezuela to allow an impartial, third-party investigation into the excessive and unlawful force against peaceful demonstrations on multiple occasions since February 4th, 2014;
(5) Urges the President to immediately impose targeted sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, against individuals planning, facilitating, or perpetrating gross human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and other members of civil society in Venezuela; and
(6) Calls for the United States to work with other countries in the hemisphere to actively encourage a process of dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and the political opposition through the good offices of the Organization of American States so that the voices of all Venezuelans can be taken into account through their country's constitutional institutions as well as free and fair elections.
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