Florida’s two senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, joined forces Thursday in Miami to call for stepped up attention and potential U.S. sanctions against Venezuela for repressing political protests.
They also suggested that Venezuelans should become eligible for special U.S. immigration status.
To try to persuade their colleagues, Rubio said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hold a hearing soon on the ongoing unrest, with as-yet unnamed leaders of the Venezuelan opposition invited to testify. Rubio is a committee member.
“What we want to do is build a case,” Rubio said — not only for sanctions against members of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration, but also perhaps against private Venezuelan citizens tied to the government.
That possibility has drawn particular interest in South Florida, home to the largest community of Venezuelans outside their country, including some rumored Maduro allies. Miami and Orlando remain frequent destinations for Venezuelan tourists, among them government officials.