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Rubio Condemns Silence Of President Obama & Latin American Governments On Repression In Venezuela

Feb 27, 2015 | Press Releases

On Senate floor, Rubio also highlights U.S.-Cuba normalization talks in Washington today

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate Floor Speech
February 27, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio: “You have a government that’s losing control and for the first time now, a few weeks ago or a few months ago, authorized the National Guard to use deadly force on protesters. So it should not surprise us that earlier this week a young man, a high school student was shot and killed in one of those protests. We should expect to see more of it in the days and weeks to come, unfortunately. I hope I’m wrong. And I pray that I’m wrong but I believe that that’s where we’re headed. Because there’s no way out of this mess for the government.” 

“[In December] we were able to pass a bill that authorizes the administration to impose sanctions on individuals in Venezuela responsible for human rights violations. To date, the administration has imposed visa bans on some of these individuals, but they have not taken the next step of economic sanctions on the people responsible for these human rights violations. A few weeks ago, I wrote the President a letter asking him please begin to use this tool against those that are violating the human rights of the people of Venezuela. He has yet to do so, so I once again renew that call. Please impose sanctions on these human rights violators in Venezuela.”

“Where are the democracies of Latin America and the Western Hemisphere? Why are they not speaking out and condemning what’s happening there? It’s interesting, we sent a couple of Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay, and the Uruguayan government says they are asylum seekers, refugees, basically implying they are refugees from American oppression. They have no qualms about speaking out against the United States for putting in jail enemy combatants and terrorists responsible for the murder of Americans, responsible for acts of terrorism, responsible for supporting the Taliban. They have no problem condemning us, claiming that the people we released to them, which we should never have done, are refugees and asylum seekers. But they are silent and say nothing when it comes to what’s happening in Venezuela. The hypocrisy of it is unbelievable. And I challenge the heads of state of the countries of Latin America to speak out. 

“The only problem is they’re going to turn back around and say where’s your head of state? Why isn’t your president speaking out about it? The answer is I don’t know. I’m grateful that he signed that bill. It’s time to put it in effect. It’s time to begin to use the tools in those sanctions to go after these individuals. But I wish the White House and the President would more forcefully and more consistently speak out against these human rights violations that are occurring. And so when you think about why the people of Venezuela feel abandoned, they look to us. They see America as the beacon of hope. We are supposed to be the premier defender of human rights and freedom and democracy on the planet. And instead from the White House and the President, there is silence. There is silence.”

“Meanwhile, in Venezuela just this week a member of their legislative branch was ousted, and you know why they kicked him out? So he could lose his legislative immunity and they could arrest him. Two weeks ago armed agents stormed the office of a mayor, shot – fired shots in the air to disperse crowds and arrested by force a member of the opposition party of the mayor. This is happening in our own hemisphere, and this is happening in the 21st century. It was just two decades ago that the Western Hemisphere was full of dictators right-wing and left-wing, strong men who controlled and oppressed their people, and we paid a terrible price for that in this hemisphere and even in this country. And then there was this opening of democratic progress in the region. And now it’s starting to erode and we’re standing by and saying nothing about it. It’s like it doesn’t even exist.”

“Today even as I speak to you, Cuban agents are here – I say Cuban agents. They dress as diplomats and act like diplomats, but they are spies. In fact, the chief negotiator for the Cubans in these talks they’re having with the State Department, Josefina Vidal was asked to leave by the State Department. They send spies, we send diplomats. Let’s not forget who it is that taught the Venezuelan government these tactics of oppression, ways to crack down on society. Let’s not forget who coached them. Let’s not forget there are thousands of Cuban agents working in the government of Venezuela right now. Let’s not forget that there are thousands of Cuban agents infiltrated in the armed forces of the – not infiltrated – they’re openly in the armed forces of Venezuela right now. Let’s not forget that Venezuela and Maduro and before him Chavez outsourced the sovereignty to the Castros. Let’s not forget who coached them, taught them, supported them, who provided personnel for them to carry this movement is the Cubans. 

“A nation that is a global sponsor of terrorism because they harbor fugitives from American justice because they helped North Korea evade U.N. sanctions openly and nothing happens. Now the State Department is thinking about removing them from the list of sponsors of terrorism. One concession after the other. Anyway, on the issue of Venezuela, I hope we’ll pay more attention to it because there are people right now suffering not just economically, but politically and physically, at the hands of a brutal regime, and they are looking for America and its leaders to speak clearly that we are on their side, that we will speak out for them, that we will stand for them and we will use the power of this government to go after and punish those who are committing these crimes.”