A resolution deploring the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela

Bill Number: 
Bill Location: 
Date of Last Action: 
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Relevant Text: 


February 27, 2014

Mr. Menendez (for himself, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Cruz, Mr. Nelson,

Mr. Kirk, Mr. Begich, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Markey, Mr. McCain, Mr. Cornyn,

Mr. Kaine, and Mr. Inhofe) submitted the following resolution; which

was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

March 11, 2014

Reported by Mr. Menendez, without amendment



Deploring the violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in

Venezuela, calling for full accountability for human rights violations

taking place in Venezuela, and supporting the right of the Venezuelan

people to the free and peaceful exercise of representative democracy.

Whereas the Government of Venezuela's chronic mismanagement of its economy has

produced inflation that exceeds 50 percent annually, currency shortages,

economic distortions, and the routine absence of basic goods and


Whereas the Government of Venezuela's failure to guarantee minimal standards of

public security for its citizens has led the country to become one of

the most violent in the world, with the per capita homicide rate in the

city of Caracas exceeding 115 per 100,000 people;

Whereas the Government of Venezuela has taken continued steps to remove checks

and balances on the executive, politicize the judiciary, undermine the

independence of the legislature through use of executive decree powers,

persecute and prosecute its political opponents, curtail freedom of the

press, and limit the free expression of its citizens;

Whereas, on January 23, 2014, National Representative Maria Corina Machado and

Mr. Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the political party ``Popular Will'',

among others, called on the Venezuelan people to gather in street

assemblies and debate a popular, democratic and constitutional ``way

out'' of Venezuela's crisis of governability;

Whereas, since February 4, 2014, the people of Venezuela--responding to ongoing

economic hardship, high levels of crime and violence, and the lack of

basic political rights and individual freedoms--have turned out in

demonstrations in Caracas and throughout the country to protest the

Government of Venezuela's inability to ensure the political and economic

well-being of its citizens;

Whereas the government of Nicolas Maduro responded to the mass demonstrations by

ordering the arrest without evidence of senior opposition leaders,

including Mr. Leopoldo Lopez, Carlos Vecchio, and Antonio Rivero, and by

violently repressing peaceful demonstrators with the help of the

Venezuelan National Guard and groups of armed, government-affiliated

civilians, known as ``collectives'';

Whereas, on February 18, 2014, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez turned himself

in to authorities in Venezuela, was arrested, and charged unjustly with

criminal incitement, conspiracy, arson, and intent to damage property;

Whereas the Maduro government has sought to censor information about the

demonstrations and the government's violent crackdown by blocking online

images and threatening the few remaining uncensored domestic media


Whereas President Maduro threatened to expel the United States news network CNN

from Venezuela and has taken off the air the Colombian news channel NTN

24, which transmits in Venezuela, after news outlets reported on the

nationwide protests;

Whereas the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a statement on

February 14, 2014, which ``expresses its concern over the serious

incidents of violence that have taken place in the context of protest

demonstrations in Venezuela, as well as other complaints concerning acts

of censorship against media outlets, attacks on organizations that

defend human rights, and acts of alleged political persecution''; and

Whereas, as of February 27, 2014, there have been 13 people killed, over 100

injured, and dozens have been unjustly detained due to pro-democracy

demonstrations throughout Venezuela: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) reaffirms United States support for the people of

Venezuela in their pursuit of the free exercise of

representative democracy as guaranteed by the Venezuelan

constitution and defined under the Inter-American Democratic

Charter of the Organization of American States;

(2) deplores the use of excessive and unlawful force

against peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela and the inexcusable

use of violence and politically motivated criminal charges to

intimidate the country's political opposition;

(3) calls on the Government of Venezuela to disarm and

dismantle the system of ``colectivos'' or ``collectives'' and

any other government-affiliated or supported militias or

vigilante groups;

(4) calls on the Government of Venezuela to allow an

impartial, third-party investigation into the excessive and

unlawful force against peaceful demonstrations on multiple

occasions since February 4, 2014;

(5) urges the President to immediately impose targeted

sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, against

individuals planning, facilitating, or perpetrating gross human

rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, journalists,

and other members of civil society in Venezuela; and

(6) calls for the United States Government to work with

other countries in the hemisphere to actively encourage a

process of dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and the

political opposition through the good offices of the

Organization of American States so that the voices of all

Venezuelans can be taken into account through their country's

constitutional institutions as well as free and fair elections.