Text: S.2142 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)
Public Law No: 113-278 (12/18/2014)
[113th Congress Public Law 278]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[[Page 128 STAT. 3011]]
Public Law 113-278
To impose targeted sanctions on persons responsible for violations of
human rights of antigovernment protesters in Venezuela, to strengthen
civil society in Venezuela, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Dec. 18,
2014 - [S. 2142]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Venezuela
Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. 50 USC 1701
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and
Civil Society Act of 2014''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The Central Bank of Venezuela and the National
Statistical Institute of Venezuela stated that the annual
inflation rate in Venezuela in 2013 was 56.30, the highest level
of inflation in the Western Hemisphere and the third highest
level of inflation in the world behind South Sudan and Syria.
(2) The Central Bank of Venezuela and the Government of
Venezuela have imposed a series of currency controls that has
exacerbated economic problems and, according to the World
Economic Forum, has become the most problematic factor for doing
business in Venezuela.
(3) The Central Bank of Venezuela declared that the scarcity
index of Venezuela reached 29.4 percent in March 2014, which
signifies that fewer than one in 4 basic goods is unavailable at
any given time. The Central Bank has not released any
information on the scarcity index since that time.
(4) Since 1999, violent crime in Venezuela has risen sharply
and the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, an independent
nongovernmental organization, found the national per capita
murder rate to be 79 per 100,000 people in 2013.
(5) The international nongovernmental organization Human
Rights Watch recently stated, ``Under the leadership of
President Chaavez and now President Maduro, the accumulation of
power in the executive branch and the erosion of human rights
guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor,
and prosecute its critics.''.
(6) The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013
of the Department of State maintained that in Venezuela ``the
government did not respect judicial independence or permit
judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation''
and ``the government used the judiciary to intimidate and
selectively prosecute political, union, business, and civil
society leaders who were critical of government policies or
[[Page 128 STAT. 3012]]
(7) The Government of Venezuela has detained foreign
journalists and threatened and expelled international media
outlets operating in Venezuela, and the international
nongovernmental organization Freedom House declared that
Venezuela's ``media climate is permeated by intimidation,
sometimes including physical attacks, and strong antimedia
rhetoric by the government is common''.
(8) Since February 4, 2014, the Government of Venezuela has
responded to antigovernment protests with violence and killings
perpetrated by its public security forces.
(9) In May 2014, Human Rights Watch found that the unlawful
use of force perpetrated against antigovernment protesters was
``part of a systematic practice by the Venezuelan security
(10) As of September 1, 2014, 41 people had been killed,
approximately 3,000 had been arrested unjustly, and more than
150 remained in prison and faced criminal charges as a result of
antigovernment demonstrations throughout Venezuela.
(11) Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was arrested on
February 18, 2014, in relation to the protests and was unjustly
charged with criminal incitement, conspiracy, arson, and
property damage. Since his arrest, Lopez has been held in
solitary confinement and has been denied 58 out of 60 of his
proposed witnesses at his ongoing trial.
(12) As of September 1, 2014, not a single member of the
public security forces of the Government of Venezuela had been
held accountable for acts of violence perpetrated against
SEC. 3. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING ANTIGOVERNMENT PROTESTS IN
VENEZUELA AND THE NEED TO PREVENT FURTHER
VIOLENCE IN VENEZUELA.
It is the sense of Congress that--
(1) the United States aspires to a mutually beneficial
relationship with Venezuela based on respect for human rights
and the rule of law and a functional and productive relationship
on issues of public security, including counternarcotics and
(2) the United States supports the people of Venezuela in
their efforts to realize their full economic potential and to
advance representative democracy, human rights, and the rule of
law within their country;
(3) the chronic mismanagement by the Government of Venezuela
of its economy has produced conditions of economic hardship and
scarcity of basic goods and foodstuffs for the people of
(4) the failure of the Government of Venezuela to guarantee
minimal standards of public security for its citizens has led
the country to become one of the most violent and corrupt in the
(5) the Government of Venezuela continues to take steps to
remove checks and balances on the executive, politicize the
judiciary, undermine the independence of the legislature through
use of executive decree powers, persecute and prosecute its
political opponents, curtail freedom of the press, and limit the
free expression of its citizens;
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(6) Venezuelans, responding to ongoing economic hardship,
high levels of crime and violence, and the lack of basic
political rights and individual freedoms, have turned out in
demonstrations in Caracas and throughout the country to protest
the failure of the Government of Venezuela to protect the
political and economic well-being of its citizens; and
(7) the repeated use of violence perpetrated by the National
Guard and security personnel of Venezuela, as well as persons
acting on behalf of the Government of Venezuela, against
antigovernment protesters that began on February 4, 2014, is
intolerable and the use of unprovoked violence by protesters is
also a matter of serious concern.
SEC. 4. UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD VENEZUELA.
It is the policy of the United States--
(1) to support the people of Venezuela in their aspiration
to live under conditions of peace and representative democracy
as defined by the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the
Organization of American States;
(2) to work in concert with the other member states within
the Organization of American States, as well as the countries of
the European Union, to ensure the peaceful resolution of the
current situation in Venezuela and the immediate cessation of
violence against antigovernment protestors;
(3) to hold accountable government and security officials in
Venezuela responsible for or complicit in the use of force in
relation to antigovernment protests and similar future acts of
(4) to continue to support the development of democratic
political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela.
SEC. 5. <<NOTE: President. Determination.>> SANCTIONS ON PERSONS
RESPONSIBLE FOR VIOLENCE IN VENEZUELA.
(a) In General.--The President shall impose the sanctions described
in subsection (b) with respect to any foreign person, including any
current or former official of the Government of Venezuela or any person
acting on behalf of that Government, that the President determines--
(1) has perpetrated, or is responsible for ordering or
otherwise directing, significant acts of violence or serious
human rights abuses in Venezuela against persons associated with
the antigovernment protests in Venezuela that began on February
(2) has ordered or otherwise directed the arrest or
prosecution of a person in Venezuela primarily because of the
person's legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or
(3) has knowingly materially assisted, sponsored, or
provided significant financial, material, or technological
support for, or goods or services in support of, the commission
of acts described in paragraph (1) or (2).
(b) Sanctions Described.--
(1) In general.--The sanctions described in this subsection
are the following:
(A) Asset blocking.--The exercise of all powers
granted to the President by the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) to the
extent necessary to block and prohibit all transactions
in all property and interests in property of a person
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the President to be subject to subsection (a) if such
property and interests in property are in the United
States, come within the United States, or are or come
within the possession or control of a United States
(B) Exclusion from the united states and revocation
of visa or other documentation.--In the case of an alien
determined by the President to be subject to subsection
(a), denial of a visa to, and exclusion from the United
States of, the alien, and revocation in accordance with
section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8
U.S.C. 1201(i)), of any visa or other documentation of
(2) Penalties.--A person that violates, attempts to violate,
conspires to violate, or causes a violation of paragraph (1)(A)
or any regulation, license, or order issued to carry out
paragraph (1)(A) shall be subject to the penalties set forth in
subsections (b) and (c) of section 206 of the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1705) to the same
extent as a person that commits an unlawful act described in
subsection (a) of that section.
(3) Exception relating to importation of goods.--The
requirement to block and prohibit all transactions in all
property and interests in property under paragraph (1)(A) shall
not include the authority to impose sanctions on the importation
(4) Exception to comply with united nations headquarters
agreement.--Sanctions under paragraph (1)(B) shall not apply to
an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is
necessary to permit the United States to comply with the
Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations,
signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force
November 21, 1947, between the United Nations and the United
States, or other applicable international obligations.
(c) Waiver.--The President may waive the application of sanctions
under subsection (b) with respect to a person if the President--
(1) determines that such a waiver is in the national
interest of the United States; and
(2) <<NOTE: Deadline. Notification.>> on or before the date
on which the waiver takes effect, submits to the Committee on
Foreign Relations and the Committee on Banking Housing, and
Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs
and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of
Representatives a notice of and justification for the waiver.
(d) Regulatory Authority.--The President shall issue such
regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this
(e) Termination.--The requirement to impose sanctions under this
section shall terminate on December 31, 2016.
(f) Definitions.--In this section:
(1) Admitted; alien.--The terms ``admitted'' and ``alien''
have the meanings given those terms in section 101 of the
Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101).
(2) Financial institution.--The term ``financial
institution'' has the meaning given that term in section 5312 of
title 31, United States Code.
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(3) Foreign person.--The term ``foreign person'' means a
person that is not a United States person.
(4) Good.--The term ``good'' has the meaning given that term
in section 16 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50
U.S.C. App. 2415) (as continued in effect pursuant to the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et
(5) Knowingly.--The term ``knowingly'', with respect to
conduct, a circumstance, or a result, means that a person has
actual knowledge, or should have known, of the conduct, the
circumstance, or the result.
(6) Materially assisted.--The term ``materially assisted''
means the provision of assistance that is significant and of a
kind directly relevant to acts described in paragraph (1) or (2)
of subsection (a).
(7) United states person.--The term ``United States person''
(A) a United States citizen or an alien lawfully
admitted for permanent residence to the United States;
(B) an entity organized under the laws of the United
States or of any jurisdiction within the United States,
including a foreign branch of such an entity.
SEC. 6. <<NOTE: Assessment. Recommenda- tions.>> REPORT ON
BROADCASTING, INFORMATION DISTRIBUTION, AND
CIRCUMVENTION TECHNOLOGY DISTRIBUTION IN
(a) In General.--Not later than 30 days after the date of the
enactment of this Act, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of
Governors (in this section referred to as the ``Board'') shall submit to
Congress a report that includes--
(1) <<NOTE: Evaluation.>> a thorough evaluation of the
governmental, political, and technological obstacles faced by
the people of Venezuela in their efforts to obtain accurate,
objective, and comprehensive news and information about domestic
and international affairs;
(2) an assessment of current efforts relating to
broadcasting, information distribution, and circumvention
technology distribution in Venezuela, by the United States
Government and otherwise; and
(3) a strategy for expanding such efforts in Venezuela,
including recommendations for additional measures to expand upon
(b) Elements.--The report required by subsection (a) shall include--
(1) an assessment of the current level of Federal funding
dedicated to broadcasting, information distribution, and
circumvention technology distribution in Venezuela by the Board
before the date of the enactment of this Act;
(2) an assessment of the extent to which the current level
and type of news and related programming and content provided by
the Voice of America and other sources is addressing the
informational needs of the people of Venezuela; and
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(3) recommendations for increasing broadcasting, information
distribution, and circumvention technology distribution in
Approved December 18, 2014.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 2142:
SENATE REPORTS: No. 113-175 (Comm. on Foreign Relations).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 160 (2014):
Dec. 8, considered and passed Senate.
Dec. 10, considered and passed House.