VENEZUELA; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 33
(House of Representatives - February 27, 2014)

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                               VENEZUELA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lend my voice to those 
who are being brutally silenced by the Nicolas Maduro regime in 
Venezuela.
  After 15 years of suffering under Hugo Chavez's rule, the people of 
Venezuela have watched their liberties continue to be violently 
stripped away as Maduro further radicalizes the country's failed 
policies.
  These policies produce the highest inflation rates in Latin America, 
leading to shortages of such basic goods as milk and toilet paper, and 
sending Venezuela into a desperate downward economic spiral that 
worsens every day.
  The corruption that is enabled by the Maduro government and its 
supporters has also contributed to a society that is plagued by rampant 
violence. In this country of 30 million inhabitants, nearly 25,000 
homicides were committed last year alone.
  Worse still, the vast majority of these murders went unpunished, 
creating a climate of impunity that leaves ordinary citizens paralyzed 
by fear and hopeless about their own future and the future of their 
country.
  As if this was not harsh enough, Mr. Speaker, Venezuelans are now 
facing the regime's repressive and violent actions. Weeks ago, Maduro 
and his cronies unleashed a bloody crackdown on students as they 
demonstrated against the regime's failed policies and peacefully 
demanded their basic human rights and democratic freedoms.
  These students are expressing the sentiments of millions of 
Venezuelans who are sick and tired of the regime's destructive policies 
and fear for what may happen next. These students were exercising 
freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, yet Maduro responded to 
their brave calls of liberty with tear gas, rubber bullets, beatings, 
and live ammunition.
  As the number of Venezuelan protesters swelled to the millions, 
Maduro has only stepped up the violence and his attempts to silence his 
critics by censoring radio and social media platforms.
  By controlling the flow of information and the major media outlets, 
Maduro perpetuates his absurd conspiracy theories which cast blame on 
everyone, but himself, for this crisis of democracy in Venezuela.
  Through the use of intimidation, unjust detentions, and violence, 
Maduro has followed the familiar playbook of other rulers who fear the 
desire of their citizens to live in freedom and under the rule of law.
  This is especially the case with the brutal Castro tyranny, which has 
the biggest stake in keeping Maduro in power because of its mutual 
disdain for freedom, for democracy, for liberty, for the rule of law, 
and because of Castro's dependence on Venezuelan oil.
  We have witnessed the Castro regime parachute in their own hired guns 
to help the Maduro regime continue its oppressive tactics against the 
people of Venezuela.

                              {time}  1045

  Since the countrywide protests began on February 12, Maduro's regime 
has murdered at least 14 Venezuelans, injured or unjustly detained 
hundreds more, and committed the worst abuses against protesters as 
stories of torture and other human rights violations continue to pour 
in.
  This relentless repression will continue and intensify unless the 
United States and the international community speak with a unified 
voice and help to promote the rule of law, the human rights, and the 
democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people.
  I hope that we will be able to say that we did not stand idly by as 
the Venezuelan people were brutally repressed and that we had a voice 
in making sure that people knew what was going on in Venezuela. I hope 
that we will be able to say that we stood for justice, that we stood 
for peace, that we stood for human rights, that we stood for freedom, 
and that we stood for the rule of law at the moment when these were 
needed the most.

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