SENATE RESOLUTION 365--DEPLORING THE VIOLENT REPRESSION OF PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATORS IN VENEZUELA, CALLING FOR FULL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS TAKING PLACE IN VENEZUELA, AND SUPPORTING...; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 33
(Senate - February 27, 2014)

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[Pages S1237-S1238]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  SENATE RESOLUTION 365--DEPLORING THE VIOLENT REPRESSION OF PEACEFUL 
 DEMONSTRATORS IN VENEZUELA, CALLING FOR FULL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HUMAN 
 RIGHTS VIOLATIONS TAKING PLACE IN VENEZUELA, AND SUPPORTING THE RIGHT 
     OF THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE TO THE FREE AND PEACEFUL EXERCISE OF 
                        REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

  Mr. MENENDEZ (for himself, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Cruz, and Mr. 
Nelson) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the 
Committee on Foreign Relations.:

                              S. Res. 365

       Whereas the Government of Venezuela's chronic mismanagement 
     of its economy has produced inflation that exceeds 50 percent 
     annually, currency shortages, economic distortions, and the 
     routine absence of basic goods and foodstuffs;
       Whereas the Government of Venezuela's failure to guarantee 
     minimal standards of public security for its citizens has led 
     the country to become one of the most violent in the world, 
     with the per capita homicide rate in the city of Caracas 
     exceeding 115 per 100,000 people;
       Whereas the Government of Venezuela has taken continued 
     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;
       Whereas, on January 23, 2014, National Representative Maria 
     Corina Machado and Mr. Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the 
     political party ``Popular Will'', among others, called on the 
     Venezuelan people to gather in street assemblies and debate a 
     popular, democratic and constitutional ``way out'' of 
     Venezuela's crisis of governability;
       Whereas, since February 4, 2014, the people of Venezuela--
     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 Government 
     of Venezuela's inability to ensure the political and economic 
     well-being of its citizens;
       Whereas the government of Nicolas Maduro responded to the 
     mass demonstrations by ordering the arrest without evidence 
     of senior opposition leaders, including Mr. Leopoldo Lopez, 
     Carlos Vecchio, and Antonio Rivero, and by violently 
     repressing peaceful demonstrators with the help of the 
     Venezuelan National Guard and groups of armed, government-
     affiliated civilians, known as ``collectives'';
       Whereas, on February 18, 2014, opposition leader Leopoldo 
     Lopez turned himself in to authorities in Venezuela, was 
     arrested, and charged unjustly with criminal incitement, 
     conspiracy, arson, and intent to damage property;
       Whereas the Maduro government has sought to censor 
     information about the demonstrations and the government's 
     violent crackdown by blocking online images and threatening 
     the few remaining uncensored domestic media outlets;
       Whereas President Maduro threatened to expel the United 
     States news network CNN from Venezuela and has taken off the 
     air the Colombian news channel NTN 24, which transmits in 
     Venezuela, after news outlets reported on the nation-wide 
     protests;
       Whereas the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 
     released a statement on February 14, 2014, which ``expresses 
     its concern over the serious incidents of violence that have 
     taken place in the context of protest demonstrations in 
     Venezuela, as well as other complaints concerning acts of 
     censorship against media outlets, attacks on organizations 
     that defend human rights, and acts of alleged political 
     persecution''; and
       Whereas, as of February 27, 2014, there have been 13 people 
     killed, over 100 injured, and dozens have been unjustly 
     detained due to pro-democracy demonstrations throughout 
     Venezuela: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) reaffirms United States support for the people of 
     Venezuela in their pursuit of the free exercise of 
     representative democracy as guaranteed by the Venezuelan 
     constitution

[[Page S1238]]

     and defined under the Inter-American Democratic Charter of 
     the Organization of American States;
       (2) deplores the use of excessive and unlawful force 
     against peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela and the 
     inexcusable use of violence and politically-motivated 
     criminal charges to intimidate the country's political 
     opposition;
       (3) calls on the Government of Venezuela to disarm and 
     dismantle the system of ``colectivos'' or ``collectives'' and 
     any other government-affiliated or supported militias or 
     vigilante groups;
       (4) calls on the Government of Venezuela to allow an 
     impartial, third-party investigation into the excessive and 
     unlawful force against peaceful demonstrations on multiple 
     occasions since February 4th, 2014;
       (5) urges the President to immediately impose targeted 
     sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, against 
     individuals planning, facilitating, or perpetrating gross 
     human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, 
     journalists, and other members of civil society in Venezuela; 
     and
       (6) calls for the United States Government to work with 
     other countries in the hemisphere to actively encourage a 
     process of dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and 
     the political opposition through the good offices of the 
     Organization of American States so that the voices of all 
     Venezuelans can be taken into account through their country's 
     constitutional institutions as well as free and fair 
     elections.

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