Marco Rubio: 'Shameful' US Has Yet to Sanction Venezuela for Human Rights Abuses
Senator Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor Thursday to bring the anti-socialist cause in Venezuela to the fore of the nation yet again, detailing the atrocities of the Nicolás Maduro regime and announcing that he is crafting a bill to sanction supporters of the Venezuelan government.
Detailing extensively the suffering of the Venezuelan people with images and anecdotes, Sen. Rubio insisted that the American government must act in the face of Maduro's oppression, not only appealing to the moral authority of the United States but noting that the situation "is impacting hundreds of thousands of people that live in Florida because they have family members who still live in the country of Venezuela."
Sen. Rubio showed pictures of people waiting in line for hours for basic supermarket needs and market shelves completely emptied thanks to the economic collapse brought upon by socialist government. "We’re talking about a rich country here," Sen. Rubio noted, citing Venezuela's vast oil reserves. "This is not a third world country. This is not a nation that is poor. This is a revenue-rich nation. This is a resource-rich nation, among the most resource-rich on the planet."
He also showed images of the overwhelming violence the government has used against anyone with the courage to protest the current state of affairs. He highlighted the story of Marvinia Jiménez, a woman who was beaten by Venezuela's National Guard with a metal helmet while forced to lie on her back. In the midst of such human rights violations, the Senator noted, "there are people tied to the government in Venezuela buying gold-plated iPads. I didn’t even know there was such a thing." He rattled off the harrowing statistics of the current wave of protests: 1,800 arrests, 50 incidents of torture, and 36 dead since the arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo López in February.
The world has allowed this to happen, Sen. Rubio argued. "The Organization of American States has been downright embarrassing and shameful," he said, asking rhetorically what the point of the organization was if not to combat such violations of international law in this hemisphere. He added that he was unhappy with the way the Obama administration had handled the situation – which is to say, by not handling it at all. "President Obama has expressed he’s ‘concerned’ about this... we’re not just ‘concerned’ about this. We should be outraged about this," he added. "It is shameful that the leadership of our government has so far not done more to address this."
Sen. Rubio concluded by noting that he and New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez are working on a bill to sanction individuals within the Maduro regime who currently have investments in the United States. "Specific sanctions against individuals and companies associated with the Maduro regime," he added, would ensure that there was a price to pay for the government's abuses.
Senator Rubio has been the most outspoken member of Congress in the United States about the violence and oppression in Venezuela and has been a vocal opponent of the Chavista regime long before Maduro's ascent to the presidency. His last floor speech on Venezuela earned him a bizarre scolding from Maduro, who used time on his television show to call Rubio "the craziest of the crazies" and a "corrupt bandit politician."
Watch Sen. Rubio's comments on the Senate floor below: