VENEZUELA; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 32
(House of Representatives - February 26, 2014)

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[Pages H1942-H1943]
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  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, today I rise for those who cannot 
speak freely in Venezuela. Widespread demonstrations have broken out 
throughout Venezuela to protest an oppressive regime that seeks to 
silence the people and deny their fundamental freedoms of expression 
and the right to assembly.
  After years under Chavez and now Maduro, those brave men and women 
are expressing themselves in a united, clear voice that what they want 
is what should be rightfully theirs: respect for human rights and a 
true democracy in Venezuela. In response, as you can see here, Maduro 
and his thugs treat them like criminals.
  Over the past weeks, Madam Speaker, 14 people have been killed by 
Maduro's forces; over 100 have been unjustly detained. But because 
Maduro controls the major media outlets, he has silenced many of those 
who attempt to draw attention to the plight of the Venezuelan people 
and instead cast the blame on the United States for all of the 
country's ills. The nerve of him.
  Blaming the United States for his own domestic problems seems to be 
the modus operandi for Maduro, but the Venezuelan people are smarter 
than that. They recognize that this is just another scheme of Maduro's.
  The regime tried to silence its people by blocking images on Twitter, 
as Venezuelans turn to social media to show the world the ugly reality 
that they are going through.
  As the violence in Venezuela continues to escalate, responsible 
nations in the hemisphere and throughout the world have a moral 
obligation to stand with the people of Venezuela against the forces of 
fear and oppression. We must be the voice for those suffering under 
this repression. At the same time, we must condemn the violent actions 
of the Maduro regime against people who are yearning for liberty, 
justice, democracy, respect, and for human rights.
  This fight for democracy and human rights isn't the struggle of 
Venezuelans only. It is the struggle of all who seek to advance the 
cause of human dignity and freedom.
  How we respond matters. Madam Speaker, it is a test of our commitment 
to the ideals of freedom and democracy for everyone, not just for a 

                              {time}  1015

  It is also a test of our resolve. Other oppressive leaders in the 
region are watching us to see if we back up our lofty words with 
action, so we must not equivocate. We must not waver.
  We must stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and we 
must be the voice for those who are

[[Page H1943]]

being silenced by this repressive regime, because our inaction would 
only serve to embolden other rogue regimes that seek to fight back the 
tides of democracy.
  Throughout the Western Hemisphere, Madam Speaker, we have seen these 
regimes, such as Venezuela and the one in Cuba, work together to 
oppress and silence civil society.
  Just yesterday, in my native homeland of Cuba, Dr. Oscar Elias 
Biscet, a leading Cuban pro-democracy advocate and a recipient of the 
U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, was unjustly arrested by agents of 
the Castro regime for expressing his support for Leopoldo Lopez in 
Venezuela, one of the leading opposition figures who remains in 
military jail as we speak.
  We must send a unified message to these and other repressive leaders 
that we will not look the other way when they commit heinous acts 
against their own people. We must show them that the world is watching 
and that they will face serious consequences for their transgressions.
  That is why, Madam Speaker, I have proposed House Resolution 488, 
that expresses solidarity with the people of Venezuela who yearn for 
freedom, for democracy, and dignity.
  I commend the Government of Panama for calling for an urgent meeting 
of Latin American foreign ministers at the Organization of American 
States, OAS, to address this ongoing crisis in Venezuela. Sadly, this 
response is an exception, as other countries in the hemisphere remain 
deafeningly silent.
  I call on the OAS to demonstrate its commitment to the principles of 
its Inter-American Democratic Charter and support the Venezuelan 
people's right for democratic reforms to be respected in their country 
and respect for human rights.
  I urge the United States administration to make a priority of 
supporting the Venezuelan people's aspirations for democracy and 
liberty, and I urge my colleagues in the Congress to join me in this 
important call for solidarity.