Nelson and Rubio condemn ‘fraudulent’ Venezuela election, praise sanctions against Maduro

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Florida’s Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R) belong to different political parties but are in close agreement regarding the situation in Venezuela, where President Nicolás Maduro has ruled by decree since 2013, his leadership marked by severe economic hardships and human rights abuses.

In a press release on Sunday, Rubio condemned the recent Venezuelan election as a “desperate and illegitimate power grab” and urged President Donald Trump’s administration to “impose economic sanctions on the Maduro regime that will not harm the people of Venezuela but will deprive the Maduro regime of the resources they need to remain in power,” and to “expand sanctions on individuals who have committed or supported the violation of human rights and the democratic order.”

Earlier today, the Treasury Department announced that it was imposing sanctions on Maduro personally, freezing all of Maduro’s assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting all U.S. persons from dealing with him. As the Treasury press release explained:

Under Maduro, the Venezuelan government has deliberately and repeatedly abused the rights of citizens through the use of violence, repression, and criminalization of demonstrations. At his direction, the regime’s security forces have systematically repressed and criminalized opposition parties through arbitrary detention, military prosecution of civilians, and the excessive use of force against demonstrators. Any member of the opposition or critic of the regime risks being detained, imprisoned, assaulted, tortured, and assassinated.

In addition to committing widespread human rights abuses, Maduro’s regime has mismanaged the economy and engaged in systemic corruption. Despite having among the world’s largest oil reserves, tens of millions of Venezuelans are going hungry because the Government refuses to import sufficient food for the Venezuelan people, engages in rampant corruption around currency and the exchange rate regime, and rejects offers of humanitarian aid.

Both Rubio and Nelson praised the decision to sanction Maduro, and urged continued efforts to pursue additional harsh sanctions.

“The sanctions imposed today on Nicolas Maduro are warranted,” said Rubio. “However, I remain confident the president will keep his clear commitment to impose economic sanctions on the regime if they convene the illegitimate Constituent Assembly.”

“I talked to Treasury and we have frozen the assets of Venezuela’s dictator, Nicolas Maduro, and I expect other countries will follow,” said Nelson. “This is the first in what I hope are the strongest possible economic sanctions to stop Maduro from instituting a Cuban-style regime. The United States should consider cutting off imports of Venezuelan oil.”

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.

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