Today, Congressman Joe Garcia joined Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in a Listening Session with a group of South Florida Hispanic Community leaders to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. The leaders addressed their concerns, helping to identify potential solutions they would like Congress to consider to help stop the violence and create the space for dialogue and peace.
"Today's meeting is part of our ongoing work with the local Venezuelan community which has played a vital role in supporting the Venezuelan people and brining national awareness to the crisis at a time when the voices of their brethren are unjustly suppressed," said Garcia. "Bringing an end to the ongoing abuses and human rights violations in Venezuela continues to be of the utmost priority."
Anger at soaring crime and a disastrous economy has led to protests in Venezuela that have killed 13 people and left at least 150 injured since the manifestations began on February 12th. As the crisis in Venezuela continues, Congressman Joe Garcia has been a consistent leader in addressing the situation in Venezuela and has taken decisive action to support the Venezuelan people, from those marching in the streets to those who call South Florida home.
"The entire South Florida delegation is united in our efforts to support peace in Venezuela and will continue to stand together as we always have against dictators and demagogues" stated Garcia. Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz added "I look forward to working with Congressman Garcia, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and these South Florida leaders as we stand united in our support for the human and democratic rights of the Venezuelan people."
South Florida is home to the largest group of Venezuelans outside the crisis-stricken country and Congressman Garcia has lead various efforts in an attempt to help the local Venezuelan community. Over the last two weeks, he has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use his authority to help Venezuelans fearful of returning, cosponsored a resolution condemning the violence and urging the U.S. to work with the international community to hold Venezuela accountable, has signed onto a letter in support of sanctions against Venezuelan government officials, attended high level meetings at the White House, held calls with various administration officials, and met on several occasions with leaders in the local Venezuelan community and constituents deeply concerned with this issue.
In early 2013, Congressman Garcia introduced the H.R. 944, the Venezuelan Liberty Act, which would allow any Venezuelan who arrived in the United States after Chavez came to power to obtain a green card, regardless of their current immigration status.