NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — An outraged Senator Ted Cruz wonders where President Obama stands on the violent repression of protesters in Venezuela. The senator spoke at Breitbart News’ day-long national security event at CPAC, emphasizing the importance of fostering democracies across the world.
“What’s happening in Ukraine mirrors what is happening in Venezuela,” the senator told the audience on Thursday after a lengthy discussion on the events in the Eastern European nation. Emphasizing the importance of following the developments in Venezuela, Senator Cruz remarked that Venezuelans were no different from Ukrainians, “standing up, yearning to be free” and being met with the “brutal, thuggish tactics” of President Nicolás Maduro’s government.
Senator Cruz was also quick to point out that Venezuela is geopolitically pivotal to the peace of the hemisphere because the Chavista government has spent so much effort cultivating relationships with rogue nations. Maduro, Senator Cruz explained, managed to “murder and torture protesters… with support from Iran.” Venezuela has also signed trade agreements as of late with Russia and China.
For Senator Cruz, the most lamentable aspect of the Venezuela story is the near total absence of the Obama administration in the discussion. “Where is the President of the United States?” the senator asked the audience to applause. “Why isn’t the President of the United States standing up and calling on Maduro: ‘Free Leopoldo López today’?”
López, the leader of the opposition Popular Will party, has been in prison since mid-February on accusations of arson and inciting violence; charges against him for terrorism and murder were dropped. Maduro called for López’s arrest after the leader organized a protest on February 12 against the government in which two people were killed by the National Guard. Maduro insists those killed were victims of a violent opposition, but no evidence exists to corroborate his claims; witnesses in almost all instances of protesters killed since then have claimed to see National Guard soldiers shooting the victims. López encouraged supporters to continue protesting through his wife, Lilian Tintori, and was last photographed in his jail cell on March 6.
Senator Cruz concluded his remarks on Venezuela with hope for the future, reminding the audience that “there are few nations on Earth that God has so blessed with natural resources as the people of Venezuela,” and that their suffering stems entirely from the government’s decision to “abuse those resources” and hand out oil for free to rogue nations like Cuba. In the future, he noted, should the people of Venezuela fully overthrow the current oppressive socialist regime, Senator Cruz encouraged American businessmen and legislators to work with the country to develop their resources. The American energy industry, he suggested, could help the country remain capitalist once given free reign to work with Venezuelans through a free trade agreement.
The possibility of working with a free Venezuela is a distant one for now, however. Last night witnessed one of the most violent oppressive streaks in the current uprisings, as the National Guard stormed the strongly anti-Chávez city of San Cristóbal, shooting and maiming protesters in the night. One video clearly shows civilians shouting and running away under a shower of gunshots from the military.
Watch Senator Cruz’s comments at The Uninvited II below: