Ros-Lehtinen and Menendez Lead Bipartisan Letter to the President Urging Support for the Venezuelan People and the Cause of Human Rights, Accountability for Maduro’s Corrupt and Repressive Regime

Feb 8, 2017

Ros-Lehtinen and Menendez Lead Bipartisan Letter to the President Urging Support for the Venezuelan People and the Cause of Human Rights,
Accountability for Maduro’s Corrupt and Repressive Regime

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) were joined by 32 of their colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter to president urging a number of actions in support of Venezuelans suffering under the regime of Nicolas Maduro. The letter calls for the administration to sanction Venezuelan officials responsible for human rights violations and corruption, including those allegedly involved in exploiting the Venezuelan food crisis. The letter also expresses support for increased funding for democracy and human rights programs in Venezuela and supports an investigation into Tareck El Aissami’s reported connections to corruption, drug trafficking, and terrorism. To read a copy of the letter, please click here.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“The dire humanitarian situation in Venezuela warrants an effective and clear foreign policy where all political prisoners, including U.S. citizens, are immediately released and human rights abusers are held accountable. The international community cannot continue to sit idly by as the Venezuelan people suffer from food and medical supply shortages, as human rights abuses multiply, and as criminal activities run rampant. The White House and the State Department must develop a proper response together with Congress to ensure that we help alleviate the anguish of the Venezuelan people and to further our own national security interests. This bicameral and bipartisan letter that I led with my colleague, Bob, shows that there is a broad consensus to urge the new administration to prioritize the cause of human rights, the fight against corruption and impunity, and to combat illicit activities ongoing in Venezuela.”

Statement by Menendez:

“For over 15 years, we have watched President Maduro and former President Chavez remove checks on the executive, corrupt the judiciary, usurp the powers of the legislature, politicize the military and deliberately suppress freedom of the press in Venezuela. The Maduro regime and its military have exploited and impoverished the Venezuelan people and continue to jail political opponents. Now, as we continue to see Venezuela on its downward spiral towards being a failed state, the Trump Administration should use the authority Congress granted it to exert American leadership by sanctioning more Venezuelan government officials and individuals violently oppressing their own people and threatening regional stability. The Obama Administration used these sanctions once, but President Trump must take more forceful action given the deteriorating situation.”

NOTE: Joining Ros-Lehtinen and Menendez in sending the letter were Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Dan Donovan (R-NY), Mia Love (R-UT), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), David Cicilline (D-RI), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA).

#####