Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered remarks today on the Senate floor urging the Administration to support Venezuela’s provisional government. Following dictator Nicolas Maduro’s unlawful swearing-in ceremony on January 10, 2019, the United States and other nations declared Maduro’s claims to Venezuela’s presidency as illegitimate.
A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.
Rubio: “And so despite our sharp disagreements, despite our arguments, despite what appears outwardly to the country and many in the World as a sign of division and weakness, the results may not be anything that we support or maybe it is, but at its core let's remind ourselves that the reason why this is happening is because everyone involved, no matter how much they appear to dislike each other or how much they disagree, they are willing to live within the letter and the law of the Constitution of the United States of America.
“But imagine an alternative for a moment, imagine if the President, frustrated by Congress' continuing unwillingness to fund one of his priorities on Border Security, frustrated by a decision in Congress to disapprove of a decision that he made regarding sanctions, decided not only was he going to ignore Congress, but he was going to stop paying them, he was going to jail its members, and he was going to create an alternative Congress, which he handpicked and controlled.
“That sounds far-fetched. That sounds clearly unconstitutional. But there are parts of this world where those kinds of things are happening, and one of them is in our Hemisphere. What I’ve just described to you is exactly what has happened in the nation of Venezuela beginning as early as 2013.
“Last May, Maduro “wins” this fraudulent “election”. And the first day of his term of this fraudulent Presidency was last week. Rightfully the President of the United States, along with leaders from multiple other countries, including Colombia and Brazil and Canada, dozens of countries around the world have said Maduro is an illegitimate president under the Constitution of Venezuela, the election you held isn't free and fair, the election you held was held by an organism that is not recognized under the Constitution. You're not the real President. You're a fraud. And the only reason why you're in office is because you are threatening to jail or kill the people who are willing to raise this point against you. The Administration went further and they said that the National Assembly of Venezuela is the only constitutionally democratically elected government in the country.
“There is one more provision that we cannot ignore, and that is a provision in the Constitution that says that when there is a vacancy in the Presidency and the Vice Presidency, the President of Venezuela is the President of the National Assembly. We have a similar line of succession in the United States.
“And so it stands to reason that if our policy is that Maduro is illegitimate and so is his Vice President, because they were elected in an extra constitutional fraudulent election, then clearly the Presidency of Venezuela is vacant. And if we are rooting our support for the National Assembly as the only constitutionally and legitimately elected body in the country, then we must respect the fact that that Constitution automatically passes the title of Presidency to the President of the National Assembly.
“And what I have come to the floor to ask is that the Administration, hopefully in concert with Brazil, Canada, and Colombia, and other countries around the world simply recognize what the Venezuelan Constitution clearly lays out, there is no President in Venezuela right now that has been democratically elected and via their own Constitution, the current President of Venezuela, pending a new election is Juan Guaidó the President of the National Assembly. This is entirely rooted, as I said in the rule of law and under the Venezuelan Constitution.
“It is a critical thing for us to do in order to begin to build a better future for Venezuela, along with our partners in the region.
“I think the next actions that should be followed after that happens is that Mr. Guaidó name a cabinet and name leaders to run the military. From the US’ perspective, since we’ve recognized the legitimate Presidency of the National Assembly's New President, pending a new election, I think that the time has come to expel the Maduro-appointed Ambassadors and allow the new constitutional President to appoint replacements.
“The frozen assets of the Venezuelan government should be put at the disposal of the legitimate government, so they can conduct a free and fair election and also use it to begin to rebuild the Country. The opportunity exists now to work with the new President, pending the new election to begin laying out plans to deliver Humanitarian Aid right now along with our partners in the region and the World and also to help put together a package of assistance to help Venezuela rebuild a country decimated by the current dictatorship.
“These are bold moves, but they are entirely rooted in the rule of law, entirely justified under the Venezuelan Constitution and will be clear evidence that we will not stand by idly as democracy in the region is wiped out by this growing trend around the world of authoritarians, assuming the vestiges of Democracy holding elections that aren't real elections.
“And So I urge -- strongly urge this administration publicly, and I've done so privately, to move quickly to recognize the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó as the interim President of that country pending a transition to a new free and fair election and I hope that this action we will take in concert with our partners in the region who recognize the exact same thing, there is a window of opportunity here to shine the light of freedom and liberty through our actions, and i hope we move expeditiously in pursuit of that goal. And to the Venezuelan people, that they may know that we are standing with them. That we have been given a concrete opportunity to defend their aspirations for freedom and a better future, but also to defend their constitution, to military officers in Venezuela who swore to uphold and defend their constitution that now is the opportunity for you to abandon the current direction of the country and assume your responsibility that you've sworn uphold, and that is the constitutional provisions of that country.”