Following Venezuela's highly contested presidential elections and in response to growing political polarization, sporadic acts of violence against political opposition members, and an absence of political dialogue, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution today supporting Venezuelan democracy, and condemning violence and intimidation against the country's political opposition.
The resolution was introduced by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, and Sens. Rubio (R-FL), Nelson (D-FL), Kaine (D-VA), Udall (D-NM), McCain (R-AZ) and Kirk (R-IL).
Joining Latin American legislatures and international organizations concerned about the political climate in Venezuela, the senators called for greater dialogue between all political actors in the country. They also appealed to multilateral organizations and democratic leaders in the region to not abandon commitments made after the elections for a full audit and recount of election results.
Since President Maduro's razor-thin victory on April 14, Venezuelan democracy has experienced setbacks. Pledges made by Maduro to South American heads of state in Lima, Peru on April 19th to address all claims and questions about the Venezuelan electoral process have gone unfulfilled. And two legal challenges to the election outcome submitted to Venezuela's Supreme Court by the Unified Democratic Platform (MUD) have been entirely ignored.
"The way forward in Venezuela is through strong adherence to the principles of democratic governance and increased dialogue between all political actors," said Menendez. "The Maduro government must recognize the legitimacy of the opposition and its concerns. It must also refrain from tactics of violence and intimidation, and commit to working within the rule of law. Venezuelan democracy cannot afford to take any further steps backward."
"Freedom and democracy in Venezuela were under constant attack under the nation's last strongman, and things have not gotten any better under his successor," said Rubio. "The unconstitutional transition of power and an April 14 presidential election plagued by irregularities confirmed this reality, which must not go unchallenged. The U.S. and OAS should stand with the Venezuelan people whose voices have been silenced at the voting booth, in parliament and through violence committed by thugs in the ruling party."
"Transparency and accountability are the fundamental tenets of a true democracy," said Nelson. "And the various reports of voter irregularities and intimidation on election day have yet to be satisfactorily explained to the Venezuelan people, who deserve an unbiased account of what happened. It's the best way for them to have greater confidence in their government going forward."
"I'm pleased to support efforts to normalize relations between the United States and Venezuela, but the situation in Venezuela is far from normal," said Kaine. "The violence directed against members of opposition parties in the Venezuelan National Assembly and the temporary curtailment of their parliamentary rights raise serious concerns that must be addressed."