Rubio: “So we’re going to try to get this done one more time through unanimous approval, and we’re going to work over the next 10 days to hopefully get everyone’s support. But if we cannot do it that way, I hope we can schedule a vote on the Senate floor on this bill so we can go after and sanction those criminals in Venezuela who are stealing the money of the Venezuelan people, and using the strength and the power of that government to attack their own people.”U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Floor Speech
June 26, 2014
“This is an issue that virtually every member of the Senate – but for one or two, at this point appears one – is supportive of. And I hope we can pass it because it is important. It will matter. This is not sanctions, for example, like the ones we’ve seen in the past on other countries. These are extremely targeted. These are targeted against individuals in the Venezuelan government who have directed or carried out gross human rights violations.
“And they will be impactful because many of these people in the Venezuelan government that are conducting these human rights violations, they actually spend their weekends in the United States. They fly on the private jets that they bought with stolen money to the United States to stay in their fancy condominiums or their mansions. They shop at our stores. They parade up our streets. And then Monday morning, they go back to work full-time violating human rights.
“So these sanctions will matter. These human rights violators in Venezuela, they have investments in the United States. In fact, when they steal money from Venezuela, oftentimes, they use straw companies and straw purchasers to invest that money in our economy, predominantly in Florida, but in other places. There is no reason in the world why they shouldn’t be sanctioned for what they’ve done. There is no reason in the world why we shouldn’t be going after these individuals for what they have done.
“One of the cornerstones of our foreign policy must always be the protection of human rights anywhere in the world where they are challenged or oppressed. And this gives us an opportunity to speak in a clear voice in a part of the world that, quite frankly, both parties have been guilty of neglecting. I’ve spent plenty of time around here talking about what’s going on in Syria and what’s going on in Iraq – and that’s a very dangerous issue that’s occurring there. The counterterrorism risks that are posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria are dramatic and deserve a lot of attention. We’ve spent time on the floor talking about what’s happened in Ukraine, and Russia’s illegal actions with regards to Crimea. And they deserve attention. We’ve spent some time even talking about the Chinese ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region and their illegitimate territorial claims.
“The only thing I’m saying is that what happens in the Western Hemisphere matters too, that human rights violations in Venezuela are just as important as human rights violations in Africa or Europe or Asia or any other part of the world. And sometimes I feel like they don’t get the attention they deserve around here. And this is our opportunity to show that this hemisphere is important, and that what happens in our hemisphere matters.
“And I want you to know that the people of Venezuela, particularly those students and those who desire a democratic and respectful future, they’re watching. Every single time we do something on Venezuela here, we hear it in phone calls, on Twitter, on Facebook, in visits to our office, in e-mails and in letters. They are watching, they are listening and they are aware.
“What I want people in the world to know, and what people in the hemisphere to know, is that America doesn’t simply care about stability. We also care about democracy and freedom and about human rights. And this is our opportunity to put action where our words are.
“And so I sincerely hope that when we return here in about eight or nine days we can find a way forward to get a vote on this. If we are unable to do this through the unanimous consent process, which they call a hotline, my intentions are to come to this floor and offer it as what they call a live unanimous consent, where I will stand up here and do what the Senator from Texas just did, or tried to do, with regards to the IRS issue. I intend to come to this floor and propose this bill and ask for unanimous consent. And if someone objects, then we will have a debate about that objection. Should that fail, then I hope that we can have a vote scheduled. I promise it won’t take any more than 15 minutes, or 10 if you want to limit the vote to 10.
“But let’s get this done. This is important. And we have worked this the appropriate way. Oftentimes people come to the floor here in the Senate and they pull a bill out of their pocket and say let’s file it for messaging purposes. This is real. This is impactful. The House has already passed a version of this. Doesn’t this issue at least deserve 10 minutes of the Senate’s time? So we’re going to try to get this done one more time through unanimous approval, and we’re going to work over the next 10 days to hopefully get everyone’s support.
“But if we cannot do it that way, I hope we can schedule a vote on the Senate floor on this bill so we can go after and sanction those criminals in Venezuela who are stealing the money of the Venezuelan people, and using the strength and the power of that government to attack their own people. And I hope that, that will be a priority for us when we return. It deserves that attention. So I appreciate the opportunity to address this today, and I wish all my colleagues the next 10 days will be fruitful when you return to your home states and look forward to working with you on these issues when we return.”