Sen. Rubio Seeks to Accelerate Venezuela Sanctions

Marco Rubio. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Republican Senator Marco Rubio is looking for ways to hasten the voting process surrounding a US Senate bill aimed at applying sanctions on Venezuelan officials presumably implicated in the repression of protesters, after the measure was blocked by one of the senators in his party, DPA reported on Thursday.

“This is an issue that virtually every member of the Senate – but for one or two, at this point appears one – is supportive of,” Rubio said yesterday during a speech before the Senate, referring to Republican Bob Corker who, according to Democrat sources, opposes this measure.

Rubio, however, did not publicly name the senator who is blocking the hasty implementation of the measure.

If the bill is processed through regular channels, its approval by the Senate could take months. Because of this, Rubio seeks a faster mechanism which requires the unanimous consent of his party’s senators.

“So we’re going to try to get this done one more time through unanimous approval, and we’re going to work over the next 10 days to hopefully get everyone’s support,” said Rubio, who co-authored this bipartisan bill with Democrats Bill Nelson and Bob Menendez.

Rubio stated his was intention was “to come to this floor and offer it as what they call a live unanimous consent.” In the event someone opposes the bill, a debate will be held. The Florida Senator seeks to have the floor vote as quickly as possible.

Rubio pointed out that the sanctions proposed target “individuals in the Venezuelan government who have directed or carried out gross human rights violations.”

According to the senator, those allegedly responsible for human rights violations “spend their weekends in the United States.”

“They fly in on the private jets that they bought with stolen money to the United States to stay in their fancy condominiums or their mansions. They shop at our stores. They parade up our streets. And then Monday morning, they go back to work full-time violating human rights,” the senator added.

The bill Rubio is advancing in the upper house envisages the freezing of US accounts held by officials of Nicolas Maduro’s government who are presumably implicated in repressive actions against protesters of the opposition.

At the close of May, the US House of Representatives passed legislation similar to the bill advanced by the senator with a view to “sanction officials of the Maduro regime who have participated in acts of intimidation and violence against the people of Venezuela, which only seeks freedom through peaceful means.”

The bill approved by the lower house “denies US entry visas, blocks properties, freezes assets and prohibits financial transactions by members of the Maduro regime who have committed serious human rights violations against the citizens of Venezuela.”

The bill has already been approved by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, but it requires approval by the floor.

In the event the contents of the two bills approved by the House of Representatives and Senate are different, they must be referred to a bicameral commission to be merged into one before being sent to the White House as a single legislative initiative.

To become law, the bill requires the approval of President Barack Obama, who has been hesitant to apply sanctions against Maduro’s government, believing it is not the right time to do so.

Obama thinks it is advisable to wait and see if talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition yield any results.

The crisis in Venezuela, sparked off on Februrary 12 when the opposition staged protests over the country’s rising insecurity, high inflation, lack of liberties and shortage of basic products, has left 42 dead and more than 800 injured to date.