Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen filed legislation Tuesday in Congress deploring violence in Venezuela and calling for dialogue between the government and opposition protesters who have taken to the streets for two weeks.
The Miami Republican's measure is part of an effort by Florida politicians of both parties to try to bring attention to the turmoil and to pressure the Obama administration to continue condemning repressive tactics against the opposition.
According to a news release by Ros-Lehtinen's office, House Resolution 488 also urges the Organization of American States to convene its Permanent Council to seek a way to end the violence, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 16 people. Panama, an OAS member, requested Tuesday that the organization consider the Venezuela situation.
On the House floor Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, criticized the detainment of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was jailed a week ago.
"We cannot stand idly by while democracy and due process are trampled on in our own hemisphere," she said, adding that the U.S. and other countries have a "moral responsibility" to support peaceful student protests.UPDATE: Among the bill's co-sponsors as of Wednesday are eight members of the Florida congressional delegation, including Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami and Democratic Reps. Joe Garcia of Miami, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens.