Passes Foreign Affairs Committee Legislation Supporting Venezuelan People

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded House passage of H. Res. 488, which supports the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democratic change and calls for an end to violence.  The bipartisan legislation, authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), recently passed the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

On the House floor Chairman Royce said:  “I appreciate Chairman Emeritus Ros-Lehtinen’s efforts to work with Ranking Member Engel, Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Chairman Matt Salmon, and Ranking Member Sires to craft a bipartisan resolution that supports Venezuelans who yearn for a return to the rule of law, democratic norms and respect for basic human rights.

“In recent weeks, Venezuela has been rocked by nationwide protests against the government of the late Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro.  These began as student protests against rampant street crime.  But they have since evolved to be a referendum on the government’s statist and destructive economic policies, and its near elimination of civil societies’ freedom. 

“Maduro’s heavy-handed response has worsened the crisis – more than a dozen Venezuelans have been killed, many more have been wounded, and even more jailed.  The leading opposition figure is in prison.  Paramilitary gangs threaten civilians.  And the president has threatened to release “all of the military force of the country” against opposition strongholds.  Even one sitting governor long-allied with Hugo Chavez has said the government has gone too far:  “I am against putting down a peaceful protest with weapons” – he told a Caracas radio station.     

“Of course, all of this is taking place in the Western Hemisphere – just a three hour flight from U.S. soil.  As a major energy producer positioned along drug-trafficking routes, Venezuela’s instability harms our nation’s interests.  

“Venezuela once had a strong democratic tradition and was close to the United States.  We’d like to see that return.  Speaking out in support of those who share this vision, as we are doing today, is an important step in realizing that goal.”