WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee and U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), today warned the Maduro regime in Venezuela that its upcoming snap election would be considered illegitimate if it failed to meet basic established standards, and called for free and fair election for the Venezuelan people.
“The Venezuelan government under President Maduro has taken a series of repressive and undemocratic actions that threatens its own people and has isolated it from the world. It has called a snap election to maintain its grip on power, using food rationing to influence votes during a period of severe food shortages and widespread malnutrition.
“We call on President Maduro and his government to delay the election at least six months to allow for a legitimate campaign and an electoral process that meets established international standards. In order to ensure minimum standards for free and fair elections, President Maduro must also release all political prisoners, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and American citizen Josh Holt; allow all candidates and political parties to participate in the election; reform Venezuela’s discredited election commission; halt the despicable practice of tying food rations to votes; allow accredited international election monitors access to all phases of the election process; and fully reinstate the democratically-elected National Assembly. Quite simply, President Maduro should have the courage and decency to allow the Venezuelan people the same fair and open process afforded Hugo Chavez when he first won at the ballot box.
“The United States can also do more to help the people of Venezuela in moving their country back toward democracy and the rule of law. That is why we will be introducing bipartisan legislation in the coming days that represents a much-needed comprehensive approach to Venezuela’s political, economic, and humanitarian crisis.”
In February, Durbin and Menendez led a group of ten Democratic senators in introducing a resolution condemning repressive and undemocratic actions taken by the Venezuelan government, and calling for free and fair elections for its people.
In 2017, the senators introduced bipartisan legislation, the Venezuela Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act, which directs the State Department to work through nongovernmental organizations to provide public health commodities, basic food commodities, and related technical assistance to Venezuela.
In 2014, Menendez introduced the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, which became law.