Florida's congressional delegation has the biggest presence in a bipartisan letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to extend sanctions and take other tough steps against the Venezuelan government.
Nine of the 30 lawmakers who signed the letter to Kerry and Lew are from the Sunshine State, among them South Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, plus Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel and Frederica Wilson.
"People are literally starving, suicide rates are rising and the government continues to repress its people," the lawmakers wrote.
Congress in July passed legislation sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami, which President Barack Obama signed into law, extending sanctions on human rights abusers in Venezuela.
"However, the are scores of other Venezuelan officials, including within the Supreme Court, federal judiciary, judges in various states, national and state prosecutors, and police and security officers who have reportedly directly engaged in human rights abuses, efforts to undermine democracy and public corruption," the lawmakers wrote to Kerry and Lew.
The 30 House members called on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to hold a recall referendum this year, release all political prisoners, follow democratic principles, permit the delivery of emergency food and medicine, and stop government support for drug trafficking.
To read the letter: