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UPDATED South Florida members of Congress weigh in on deadly protests in Venezuela

@PatriciaMazzei

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:

From Rubio:

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.

From Diaz-Balart:

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.

From Ros-Lehtinen:

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.

From Garcia: 

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.

Comments

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Odalis Torres

Thank you so much from Venezuelan people thank you and god bless

Danny king

Thank you thank you for being a voice for the people of Venezuela! So sad! A country which not long ago was reported to have the happiest people in the world are now subject to such injustices and offenses. Maduro you are a puppet! The people who pull your strings are are taking advantage of your ignorance and of the people you promised to serve. Venezuela! Don't give up! True freedom true democracy is yours but you must persevere!!

Joe Sanchez

Chavez sold Venezuela to the Cubans. The same ones that for fifty years enslaved their own people and created havoc all over Latin America. Time to hunt the vermin and end communism on this continent forever by any means necessary.

Jessica

Your support is much appreciated at this time, you also left out government's reponse has been the censured press , closeout of TV and Radio networks, even blocking tweeter and hacking Facebook accounts and whatever means for reporting the true conditions at this time throughout Venezuela.

Oscar

I will say thank you Senator for being the voice of millions in Venezuela that suffer the oppression and persecusition of the Maduro’s regime. It is time for Americans to visualize what’s happening in my country. Somebody has to stop Maduro and his armed followers. Senator, I am glad that someone in America turn the face and see how Maduro has intructed and promoted illegal armies in every city to shot and stop any protest. Senator, today two young students were murder for Maduro’s supporters. Tomorrow can be more. I claim justice and punishment for those murders that still are free and protected by Maduro. I just want to raise my voice as Venezuelan citizen to stop this masacree.

Ed Jenkins

As has been mentioned numerous times, the readers have no interest in stories about distant places. They request that their hometown paper remove this writer from the staff for failure to comply with reader requests.

Mariana Solis

I AM A 75 YEAR OLD VENEZUELAN WOMAN. I have children and granchildren. It makes me very sad to see what is happening here today. Before Chavez arrived on the scene we ere a happy country with our problems, but nothing like what we are going on today. I have visited the US, Europe L.A. and Asia many times over the years but was always happy to return home to my family. We cannot all leave and I couldn´t leave them behind in this terrible orgy of government brutality. GOD BLESS ALL THOSE WHO CAN HELP US END THIS HELL WE LIVE IN. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.

Andrea Lopez

The solution is not just a getaway, we need help! They're killing us down here. We shouldn't have the need to flee from our country, we want to save it. Help us spread the word of what's going on, we cant just let the government shut us down and keep their murderous acts.

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