Duncan, Sires, Royce, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen Urge President to Take Further Action on Venezuela

Jul 18, 2017 Issues: Foreign Affairs

Washington, D.C. – Today, Chairman Jeff Duncan (SC-03) and Ranking Member Albio Sires (NJ-08) of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (CA-39) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (NY-16), and Chairwoman Emeritus Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), along with over 20 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump urging the Administration to condemn the Maduro regime’s attempt to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution through an illegal Constituent Assembly vote scheduled for July 30.

Subcommittee Chairman Duncan: “This Constituent Assembly is illegitimate and could lead to a wider humanitarian and refugee crisis. Sunday’s referendum was significant with 98 percent of seven million Venezuelans rejecting Maduro’s continued assaults on Venezuelan democracy and its citizens. I applaud President Trump’s leadership on Venezuela and his commitment to ‘take strong and swift economic actions’ if the July 30th vote takes place. Yet, I also urge him to condemn the Constituent Assembly as illegitimate, impose additional sanctions, and call out Cuba’s nefarious activities in Venezuela. We also need to work with the EU and regional countries to craft an approach that exerts further pressure on the Maduro regime.”

Subcommittee Ranking Member Sires: “Maduro’s Constituent Assembly is nothing but a sham. His only goal is to throw out the constitution and anoint himself as leader for life. The Venezuelan people have been fighting tirelessly to preserve their democracy and restore the basic respect for human rights that all people deserve. Maduro has answered their calls by having his forces shoot young people in the streets, letting armed bandits beat members of the National Assembly, and jail anyone who is bravely trying to improve the lives of the Venezuelan people.  I call on our allies in the region to band together and continue standing up to Maduro’s bullying tactics and support the will of the Venezuelan people.”

Chairman Royce: “The White House was right to make clear that the U.S. will not tolerate the Maduro regime rewriting the constitution to further undermine the rights of the Venezuelan people.  We must continue to press regional leaders and the United Nations to put a stop to the Maduro regime’s violence and repression.”

Ranking Member Engel: “I commend the Venezuelan people for speaking with a unified voice and rejecting President Maduro’s proposed constituent assembly. Venezuelans—and those of us watching from around the world—won’t be fooled into thinking that a sham, undemocratic effort to rewrite the constitution is anything but another attempt to distract from the country’s real problems. The dismantling of Venezuela’s democracy with its failure to abide by the Inter-American Democratic Charter, daily human rights abuses, and food and medical shortages are the real issues on Venezuelans’ minds. I am pleased that the Venezuelan people are using their voices even as the Maduro government continues to try to silence them.”

Chairman Emeritus Ros-Lehtinen: “Voting in massive numbers last weekend, the Venezuelan people have sent a powerful and unambiguous message that they reject Maduro’s illegal attempts to rewrite the country’s constitution. With the Maduro regime already engaged in widespread human rights abuses, corruption, and narco-trafficking, the sham Constituent Assembly scheduled for July 30 can only add to Venezuela’s misery as Maduro and his thugs consolidate power. Venezuelans are crying out for assistance and I urge the United States and all responsible nations to stand with them in their fight for democracy and human rights. We must pressure the Maduro regime with sanctions until the Constituent Assembly is suspended, all political prisoners are released, all ties to drug trafficking are cut off, humanitarian aid is delivered, and free and fair elections are held.”

NOTE: The full text of the letter can be found here.

ADDITIONAL SIGNERS: Representatives Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Norma Torres (CA-35), Ron DeSantis (FL-06), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Daniel Donovan (NY-11), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Francis Rooney (FL-19), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Christopher Smith (NJ-04), William Keating (MA-09), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Ted Yoho (FL-03), Dina Titus (NV-01), Paul Cook (CA-08), Lois Frankel (FL-21), and David Cicilline (RI-01)

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