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Washington, D.C. – During today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, U.S. Senator Rubio (R-FL) found unanimous agreement among the witnesses – Dr. David Smilde of Tulane University, Dr. Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Mark Feierstein of the Center for Strategic and International Studies – that the Trump Administration’s top priority in Venezuela should be to push for the Organization of American States (OAS) to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter. This would isolate the Venezuelan regime diplomatically and raise the specter of additional economic sanctions.

Earlier in his remarks, Rubio urged the U.S. to pull out of the current Vatican-mediated negotiations between the Venezuelan regime and the opposition, which includes members of the National Assembly.

Rubio also highlighted the case of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, whose wife, Lilian Tintori, recently met with Rubio and President Trump. Since their meeting, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro has denied Lopez access to his attorney.

A partial transcript of a key moment in the hearing is below.

VIDEO: Rubio and witnesses stress importance of OAS invoking Democratic Charter

RUBIO: If the president or the secretary of state were here right now and they were to ask you, ‘what is the number one thing that we need to do right now in Venezuela? What is the concrete measure that we can focus on?’ Would you agree that at this moment, because you know we’re not going to get 10 things, one thing would be to use all of the energy that we have and all of the influence that we have to serve as a catalyst for action at the Organization of American States to invoke the democratic charter because of what I just outlined with regards to no respect for the current constitution, is that not the single most concrete thing we can do in the short term to provide the pressure necessary so that elections are allowed and the Venezuelan people can decide what kind of government they want? Because I think we’re going to get one thing, and that’s what I hope we can focus everybody on and I would love to have that be a bipartisan committee consensus that that’s what we should be pushing for. Perhaps you disagree. But is that the one recommendation? And if not, what would it be?

SMILDE: Yes

O’NEIL: I agree. It should be that.

FEIERSTEIN: Yes, that’s what I mentioned first.