Responding to demands from South Florida lawmakers and Panama, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold a private meeting on Thursday, beginning at 3 p.m. in Washington, to talk about the crisis in Venezuela
The meeting is closed to the media, but is being convened at the request of Panama. South Florida lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep.s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, had urged the OAS to take action. Sen. Marco Rubio has been pressing President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on mid- and top-level Venezuelan government officials.
Nelson, in a statement issued to the media on Wednesday, said he had written to the OAS, which is made up of nearly three dozen countries in the region, demanded a human rights investigation.
“I am requesting the (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights conduct an investigation into the Venezuelan government’s crackdown on protesters who are opposed to continual crime, corruption and censorship – remnants of the Hugo Chavez era,” Nelson wrote.
The OAS announcement comes a day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved Ros-Lehtinen's resolution supporting peaceful protests in Venezuela.
The House voted 393-1 in favor of the legislation, House Resolution 488, which decries repressive tactics by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Ros-Lehtinen had been circulating a letter among members of Congress asking President Obama to impose sanctions against Maduro and his administration, including denying U.S. visas, freezing their U.S. assets and blocking any financial transactions.
Among the original co-sponsors of Ros-Lehtinen's resolution were Diaz-Balart and Democrat Joe Garcia, both of Miami, as well as other members of the Florida delegation from both sides of the political aisle.