Amid fears that the Venezuelan government is cracking down on political opponents in the wake of deadly student-led protests, Miami members of Congress criticized President Nicolás Maduro and called for peace to prevail over violence.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all Republicans, each issued statements Thursday siding with the protesters. Rubio also directly called out President Obama's administration, urging him to condemn any violence from groups affiliated to the Venezuelan government.
On Twitter, Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, responded Wednesday to a tweet by El Nuevo Herald by saying, in Spanish, "El pueblo venezolano se merece paz, estabilidad, y democracia!" (The Venezuelan people deserve peace, stability and democracy.)
UPDATE: On Friday, Garcia released a full statement of his own, which has been added to the bottom of this post.
The statements are below:
The world must wake up to what’s happening in Venezuela as the government’s unprecedented wave of repression is beating, jailing and even killing innocent Venezuelans, particularly its young people. Courageous Venezuelans who want nothing more than a better future dictated by true democratic order deserve the American people’s solidarity.
President Obama should condemn all violent reprisals by government-affiliated groups against peaceful student marches. The President and his administration should vigorously enforce all existing U.S. laws to identify and sanction individuals engaging in these human rights violations. And I urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to swiftly approve the Global Human Rights Act pending before it, as a means of countering threats against individual freedoms in places like Venezuela.
Nicolás Maduro and his thugs should know that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable for their cruelty and violations of human rights. The people of Venezuela have suffered long enough and, as they continue taking to the streets in peaceful protest, I stand with them and against the Venezuelangovernment’s brutal and lethal tactics. Our condolences go out to the families who have lost their loved ones during this unsettling time.
Today, the people of Venezuela have been protesting the corruption, food shortages, soaring crime rates and unemployment, and the alarming erosion of human rights and civil society. Regrettably, Maduro’s thugs have countered these brave protesters with violence and imprisonment, leaving some seriously injured or dead.
I urge the international community to affirm its commitment to the basic freedoms that are under brutal assault in Venezuela, and to stand with the Venezuelan people who are demanding democratic institutions free from corruption, and who are asserting their right to live free from oppression.
I’m deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of students who participated in protests in Venezuela to demand fundamental human rights and respect for democratic principles. Maduro's repressive tactics have undermined the rights and dignity of the Venezuelan people, and now some of the nation’s brave youth have fallen victim to his dictatorial rule.
These deaths could have been avoided if this regime hadn’t pursued disastrous economic policies and curtailed democratic institutions such as the independent press. But with the Venezuelan constitution and democracy under siege, the people wish to speak out against efforts to acquire complete control of the country. As these two days have demonstrated, the Venezuelan people still have a voice – and they won’t be silenced.
I urge responsible nations everywhere to stand in solidarity with those in Venezuela who bravely express their opposition to this regime and seek to protect their democratic liberties. In the struggle for freedom where the state uses violence to harm its people, neutrality is not an option.
I am deeply troubled by the ongoing violence against peaceful protesters in Venezuela. Over the last fifteen years, crime in Venezuela has skyrocketed, private corporations have been seized, media outlets and democratic institutions have been threatened, and human rights have been trampled upon. As students have bravely taken to the streets frustrated by the dimming future they see for their country, it is clear that Maduro’s ascent to power has only made conditions worse.
I encourage the U.S. Government and the international community to condemn the Venezuelan government’s assaults on universal democratic principles, and I remind President Maduro that the world is watching and the voices of dissent will not be so easily silenced.
The very first bill I introduced in Congress was the Venezuelan Liberty Act, which would allow Venezuelans who came to the United States after Chavez to obtain green cards, regardless of their current immigration status. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we stand with our Venezuelan brothers and sisters, from those marching in the streets of Caracas to those seeking freedom and opportunity in South Florida. I urge the Obama administration to provide asylum to those fleeing from Venezuela and Temporary Protected Status for those already here.