Making his pitch as a the foreign-policy go-to guy in a crowded field of potential Republican presidential contenders, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor Friday to denounce the government of Venezuela (and, at one point, of Cuba). He also continued his push for the Obama administration to move more quickly on implementing sanctions against Venezuelan leaders signed into law late last year.
"There's something happening here in our hemisphere that's not getting enough attention," Rubio said at the beginning of his 12-minute speech on what he called "the horrifying, human-rights catastrophe that is Venezuela."
A high-school student was shot and killed in an anti-government protest in the South American country this week. In addition to saying he was worried about future instability in Venezuela, Rubio laid out a moral argument for opposing President Nicolás Maduro's regime, which he tied to Cuban communists who have advised the Venezuelan government since the late President Hugo Chávez took power.
In a jab at Obama, Rubio said that while he challenged Latin American heads of state to speak out about the Venezuelan situation, those countries might not be moved to action if the U.S. didn't set an example.
"And instead from the White House and the President, there is silence," Rubio said. "There is silence."