Mar 11 2014
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today welcomed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s unanimous approval of S. Res. 365, a resolution condemning Nicolás Maduro’s deadly wave of repression in Venezuela and calling for sanctions on regime officials. Rubio sponsored the resolution with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The resolution now awaits consideration by the full U.S. Senate.
Prior to the committee’s unanimous approval, Rubio delivered the following remarks in favor of its passage:
“This is an issue that’s kind of lost in the news lately given some of the other things that are going on around the world. […] You have a very serious crime problem in Venezuela. The students of Venezuela were protesting crimes that occurred on campus and took to the streets a few weeks ago to protest. The government cracked down, but not on the criminals, they cracked down on the students, leading to broader protests. And what you have now is all-out acts of violence not just committed by uniformed agents of the government, but they have these groups they set up called colectivos, which basically are militias of un-uniformed individuals riding motorcycles, armed with guns and weapons who are pulling up to these protests and basically firing into the crowd. There are now 20 people dead in Venezuela, over 500 injured, over 1000 have been jailed. Of the 20, 11 of gunshot wounds directly attributable to these government groups. Another was run over by a government vehicle.
“This is all occurring right underneath our nose, in this hemisphere. So I would encourage as many of our colleagues as possible to co-sponsor this.
“Here’s my last point. When I first got to the Senate, I used to see all these resolutions and say, ‘Well, this is just paper. Who does this matter to?’ This matters. They pay attention to this. I did an interview on CNN [en Español] a few weeks ago, and I have heard repeatedly from students in Venezuela who saw the interview and were uplifted by it.
“Because what does the government and what do oppressors tell people when they rise up and speak on behalf of their rights? ‘Nobody cares about you. Nobody’s paying attention. You don’t matter to anybody.’
“The fact that the United States of America and the U.S. Senate recognizes what’s happening in Venezuela and speaks out, as we have done here today, matters to these people. It truly does inspire them and lets them know that not only are they not forgotten, but that we care and are on their side. And I think that’s important. Any time in the world when people stand up and claim their universal rights as human beings to freely express themselves and to address their legitimate concerns about the direction of their country, they should not be met with bullets. And that’s what’s happening in Venezuela, and every time that happens, the people of our country need to be firmly on their side.”