U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, introduced H. Res. 488 -- a resolution supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy, for respect for the rule of law and an end to the violence perpetrated by Nicolas Maduro's thugs. After passing unanimously in the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, the bill will now be debated with the full U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday (March 4). Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"I'm optimistic that the U.S. House will pass my bill expressing support for the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy. I hope it will pass so that we send a swift and strong message to Maduro that the United States House of Representatives has taken notice of the developments in Venezuela, and we will not allow these transgressions to pass quietly.
"But this resolution can only be the first step to hold Maduro and his fellow regime thugs accountable for their violent response and their abuses of the Venezuelan people's liberties and human rights. I have already begun circulating a letter amongst my colleagues in the House, addressed to President Obama, asking him to take immediate actions against Maduro and other Venezuelan officials who are responsible for violations of their people's human rights. We are calling for the President to enact immediate sanctions against these officials, under authorities granted to him under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), including denying them visas to enter the United States, blocking their property and freezing their assets in the U.S., as well as prohibiting them from making any financial transactions in the U.S. This letter already enjoys bipartisan support, and I hope the President will recognize the severity of this issue and do the right thing and take these important steps.
"However, I will file a bill this week that would force the implementation of these sanctions even if the President chooses not to use these authorities under IEEPA. Now is not the time to dither or to sit on the fence. The United States must stand up for the people of Venezuela, and for the American ideals of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights. Failure to hold Maduro and his officials accountable would be irresponsible and a failure of American leadership."