HAVANA TIMES — Democrat and Republican senators and representatives lodged bills on Thursday to impose sanctions on the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela for being responsible for the recent repression of protests, DPA reported.
The Senate bill: “Defense of Venezuela’s Human Rights and Civil Society”, would empower US President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on “any person, including a current or former official of the government of Venezuela, or those who act on behalf of the said government” who has participated in or ordered “significant acts of violence or grave violations of human rights against persons involved in anti-government protests” in Venezuela.
The revocations of visas, expulsion from the country, or the freezing of assets in the United States, are among the sanctions envisaged by the bill.
“Given the rampant impunity in Venezuela,” the United States will not stand idly by with “the human rights violations in Caracas and across the country,” Democrat Senator and drafter of bill Bob Menendez said on submitting the proposal.
The legislation “serves as a strong warning to the members of the government, the Venezuelan security forces and armed civilian groups involved in violence that the United States will not tolerate this type of behavior and respond accordingly to help strengthen civil society Venezuela, while specific sanctions are imposed on the individuals responsible”, he added.
Menendez is the chair of the Senate Committee for Foreign Relations that approved a resolution condemning the “violent repression” of protests in Venezuela this week and urged President Obama to impose direct sanctions on those responsible for the “inexcusable” violence taking place in the South American country.
The bill submitted also envisages the allocation of some 15 million dollars to “defend human rights, support democratic civil society organizations, help independent media and strengthen good governance and the rule of law” in Venezuela.
The new legislation has been backed, among others, by Republican Senator Marco Rubio who, like Menendez, is of Cuban origin and a staunch critic of the Venezuelan government.
The House of Representatives received a similar proposal drafted by Cuban-born Republic congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is also highly critical of Maduro’s government. This bill was backed by nine legislators from both parties.
The “Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act” seeks to “hold the violators of human rights of Maduro’s regime accountable,” declared Ros-Lehtinen.
The bill “sends a clear message to Maduro and other repressive leaders in the region that the U.S. will not stand idly by as they assault democratic institutions and violate human rights,” the Florida legislator declared.
The US Congress will recess next week, making it difficult for the two chambers of Congress to debate the proposals. Nevertheless, these legislative proposals are a clear sign of the concerns about Venezuela currently being voiced in the White House, where, in recent days, legislators from both the Senate and House criticized the situation in the South American country and demanded a firm response from Washington before Secretary of State John Kerry.