President Obama should soon receive a bill to levy to sanctions against the Maduro regime in Venezuela for rampant human rights abuses.
The Senate passed Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez’s (D-N.J.) bill by voice vote yesterday.
It would block the assets and travel of anyone who “has perpetrated, or is responsible for ordering or otherwise directing, significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses in Venezuela against persons associated with the antigovernment protests in Venezuela that began on February 4, 2014” or “has ordered or otherwise directed the arrest or prosecution of a person in Venezuela primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly.”
It would also sanction anyone who assists human-rights abusers in Venezuela.
The House passed a sanctions bill, authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), by unanimous consent in May. Ros-Lehtinen said she hopes the lower chamber takes up the Senate bill “immediately so that with President Obama’s signature, Venezuela’s oppressors will be denied visas to enter the United States and their properties along with their assets will be frozen.”
“We in the United States have an obligation to shine a bright spotlight on Venezuela’s abuses and must object to the severe human rights violations committed by the Maduro government and his paramilitary thugs,” Menendez said.
“Targeted sanctions to include asset-freezes and additional visa bans against the individuals involved in this violence are a necessary and long overdue response. We must always stand against human rights violations, political persecution and recrimination anywhere in the world, and certainly in our hemisphere,” he said. “The Venezuelan people deserve a brighter future, not the dismal nightmare they’re enduring at the hands of President Maduro. Our fight to deliver hope and renewed opportunity to Venezuela has only begun.”
The White House hasn’t given any recent indication of which way Obama might go with his pen. In fact, the administration has barely brought up the socialist regime in recent months.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a co-sponsor of the Senat bill, called it “a long overdue but important step to demonstrate America’s commitment to the human rights and democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people in both words and actions.”
“These sanctions will go after Maduro regime officials and thugs who have spent all of 2014 authorizing and carrying out assassinations, beatings, unjustified incarcerations, kangaroo court trials and absurd indictments of its political opponents and innocent Venezuelans demanding a better future,” Rubio said.
“I congratulate my House colleagues, particularly Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, for their work in passing Venezuela sanctions legislation earlier this year. Before this Congress adjourns, I am hopeful that, for all the challenges the Venezuelan people have faced this year, we can at least end it on a positive note by turning these sanctions into a law signed by the President and implemented by the administration.”