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Rubio Calls For Sanctions Against Corrupt Former Head Of Venezuela’s State-Owned Oil Company

Oct 21, 2016 | Comunicados de Prensa

Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged the Obama Administration to sanction Venezuelan government official Rafael Ramirez for corruption during his tenure as head of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). According to Reuters, a new report by a Venezuelan congressional commission says approximately $11 billion went missing at the state-run oil company between 2004 and 2014 under Ramirez.
Specifically, Rubio is calling on the administration to sanction Ramirez under Executive Order 13692, which implements the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, and targets public corruption by senior government officials and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, Venezuela’s government. Ramirez currently serves as Venezuela’s envoy to the United Nations.
“Venezuela is blessed with abundant natural resources and a talented population, which should make it the crown jewel of economic prosperity and opportunity in the Western Hemisphere,” said Rubio. “Instead, corruption, criminality and human rights abuses at the highest levels of Venezuela’s government have tragically brought the country to the brink of becoming a failed state. Venezuela suffers from self-inflicted shortages of food, medicine and basic necessities, but there is no shortage of images coming out of the country each day showing how dire things have become there, with the most heartbreaking being the recent photos of newborn babies being placed in cardboard boxes because Venezuelan hospitals can’t afford cribs.
“Rafael Ramirez oversaw corruption at PDVSA to the tune of $11 billion, which is not just criminal; it’s downright cruel and inhumane when you consider the daily challenges confronting the Venezuelan people,” Rubio continued. “Mr. Ramirez belongs in jail along with everyone else who stole this $11 billion, and it’s an outrage that he can instead be seen gallivanting today around Manhattan, living the high life as Venezuela’s United Nations envoy.
“I urge U.S. government agencies, including the Departments of Justice, Treasury and State, to coordinate on any ongoing investigations into corrupt officials of the Venezuelan regime,” added Rubio. “The Obama Administration should sanction Rafael Ramirez and send a strong message that the U.S. will stand with the Venezuelan people against those who commit human rights abuses and plunder that nation’s vast wealth.” 
According to the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor’s 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and others reported “corruption at all levels of government” in Venezuela.