QATAR – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to the resumption of talks between the Maduro regime and the Venezuelan opposition, and the signing of a humanitarian agreement to be implemented by the United Nations:
“While I am under no illusions that Nicolas Maduro has suddenly become interested in acting in the best interest of his fellow countrymen, today’s signing of a humanitarian agreement is an urgently needed step toward addressing the misery and suffering that the Venezuelan people have been subjected to for too long under his brutal kleptocratic rule.
“I have been clear for years in my continued support for a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s protracted crisis and my belief that diplomacy is the only viable path forward. But given Maduro’s past deceptions, the resumption of negotiations in Mexico City must be defined by a clear timeline and benchmarks that lead to the full restoration of democratic institutions in Venezuela, the release of political prisoners, and most importantly, free and fair elections with credible international observers. Anything less should be seen as a failure.
“If Maduro again tries to use these negotiations to buy time to further consolidate his criminal dictatorship, the United States and our international partners must snap back the full force of our sanctions that brought his regime to the negotiating table in the first place. There can be no one-sided concessions or further normalization of a narco-trafficking dictator found to be committing crimes against humanity while creating the worst humanitarian crisis in our hemisphere.”