Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today again urged President Obama to impose targeted sanctions on individuals committing human rights violations under the oppressive Maduro regime in Venezuela.  

In a follow-up letter to the President, Rubio pointed to the prosecution of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez as evidence of President Maduro’s relentless persecution of government critics. Rubio called on President Obama to take immediate action by imposing meaningful diplomatic and financial sanctions on individuals responsible for grotesque human rights violations amidst the country’s ongoing political crisis.

“Sadly, Maduro's persecution of Mr. Lopez is emblematic of his regime's methods to cling to power. Since peaceful demonstrations erupted in February 2014, the government’s barbaric repression has resulted in 41 deaths, more than 2200 detentions, at least 50 documented cases of torture, and more than 70 students imprisoned without due process,” wrote Rubio. “Opposition leaders like Maria Corina Machado have been physically attacked and threatened with judicial prosecution. For these blatant violations of basic human rights, not a single Venezuelan official has paid a price.

“I urge you to take action and immediately impose meaningful diplomatic and financial sanctions on individuals participating on these heinous acts, including on individuals that have ordered or directed the arrest or prosecution of individuals for legitimately exercising their God-given rights,” added Rubio.

A PDF of the letter is available here, and the full text of the letter is below:

July 24, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am following up on my July 9th letter asking you to impose targeted sanctions on individuals planning, ordering, or committing human rights violations in Venezuela. President Maduro continues to relentlessly persecute his government's critics, as evidenced by the prosecution of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. His arrest and ongoing show trial, which began this week, is evidence of the Maduro regime’s worsening human rights record. I urge you to immediately impose diplomatic and financial sanctions on individuals playing a key role in prosecuting Mr. Lopez and other opposition leaders in Venezuela.

As you know, Mr. Lopez served as the democratically-elected mayor of the Chacao municipality of Caracas from 2000 to 2008.  For his popularity and critical views of the Chavez regime's failure to meet the Venezuelan people's demands for basic economic opportunities and public safety, Mr. Lopez has been barred from holding office from 2008 to 2014 by the Chavez-controlled comptroller general.  Mr. Lopez continued his activism as leader of the “Popular Will” party, and was arrested in February 2014 for encouraging Venezuelans to demand a constitutional solution to President Maduro’s violent repression of peaceful demonstrations. His arrest, detention in a military prison, and ongoing show trial makes a mockery of Venezuelan institutions and Venezuela's obligations under the Inter-American Democratic Charter. If convicted, Mr. Lopez could face up to 10 years in prison.

Sadly, Maduro's persecution of Mr. Lopez is emblematic of his regime's methods to cling to power. Since peaceful demonstrations erupted in February 2014, the government’s barbaric repression has resulted in 41 deaths, more than 2200 detentions, at least 50 documented cases of torture, and more than 70 students imprisoned without due process. Opposition leaders like Maria Corina Machado have been physically attacked and threatened with judicial prosecution. For these blatant violations of basic human rights, not a single Venezuelan official has paid a price.

I urge you to take action and immediately impose meaningful diplomatic and financial sanctions on individuals participating on these heinous acts, including on individuals that have ordered or directed the arrest or prosecution of individuals for legitimately exercising their God-given rights.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

United States Senator