Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) pushed members of Congress to increase sanctions against Venezuelan officials and cronies for the country’s widespread human-rights violations amid the “complete erosion of democracy.” While Rubio commended the current sanctions, namely visa restrictions that have limited travel for Venezuelan officials, he said the mass corruption by President Nicolás Maduro demands further action.
“I would go so far as to say that virtually every major political figure in the ruling party is corrupt,” Rubio said on the Senate floor on Thursday, adding that they “are systematically stealing the funds of the Venezuelan people.”
Venezuelans took to the streets earlier this year to protest the Maduro government, but were met with what Rubio and others senators called “a shocking display of brutality and repression.” Authorities responded with “excessive force,” imprisoned members of the political opposition, and unlawfully ousted opposition leaders in elected office.
Beyond visa restrictions, Rubio said the United States government must do more to impose sanctions on the assets of Venezuelan officials. He also pointed to Venezuela’s support of other brutal regimes as another reason to take action.
“Venezuela projects itself as a defender of every single human right-violating country on the planet,” Rubio said, citing the country’s support for Iran and Syria. “You can count on Venezuela’s government being on the side of the human-rights violators — every time.”