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Senator Menendez on Announcement to Implement Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society

Washington, DC – Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the announcement that the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act will be implemented.

"Today's announcement on the implementation of Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, which I authored, sends a forceful message to Venezuelan officials complicit in the systematic human rights abuses and rampant political oppression that have shocked the global conscience," said Menendez.  "In response to Venezuela’s culture of impunity, these targeted actions are a long-overdue step toward accountability for the victims of President Maduro’s campaign of state-sponsored violence.  With today’s action, Venezuelan officials responsible for the death of more than 40 peaceful protestors, more than 50 documented cases of torture, thousands of arbitrary detentions, and the unjust imprisonment of democratic leaders have rightly been denied access to the United States and our financial system.”

“While I welcome today’s announcement, I urge the Obama Administration to take further action, including against Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino López, specifically in the aftermath of his authorization to permit security forces to use lethal force against peaceful protesters."

“Since the start of 2014, the world has watched in alarm as President Maduro has led Venezuela down a path toward political crisis and economic ruin.  As the average Venezuelan citizen has suffered the effects of runaway inflation and widespread shortages of basic foodstuffs, the Maduro government has radicalized its agenda, jailing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez for over a year and arresting Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.  The recent death of 14 year old Kluiverth Roa, at the hands of government security forces, shows the extreme lengths the regime in Venezuela is willing to go in order to silence the Venezuelan street.”