Sen. Marco Rubio calls for sanctions against Cuba-backed Maduro regime in Venezuela

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in The Miami Herald:

Marco Rubio: Impose sanctions on Maduro regime week, the U.S. Senate will focus its attention on the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela, its government’s violent repression of peaceful demonstrations, and actions the U.S. government should take to confront the corruption and human rights abuses that are central to the regime’s governing philosophy.

Today, President Nicolás Maduro’s Venezuela is plagued by the second highest murder rate in the world, rampant corruption and cronyism related to state assets, a 57 percent inflation rate that some suggest is actually higher, a junk rating on the global bond markets, and unprecedented scarcity of basic goods, even for toilet paper.

So scarce are basic goods that, in addition to Maduro’s direct assault on press freedom — through censorship, expulsions, intimidation and nationalizations of once independent entities — silencing the media is now easier in Venezuela because of a lack of paper on which newspapers can be printed.

Despite its vast energy resources, well-educated population and democratic past, Venezuela is now a failing state. In fact, Venezuela’s government long ago ceased to be a democracy, by failing to live up to its responsibilities under the Inter-American Democratic Charter which it has signed.

Since February 4, Venezuelans have protested the lack of economic opportunity, public safety, freedom and basic needs in Maduro’s Venezuela, only to be met with brutal state-sanctioned violence. Maduro has hailed his efforts at “building a new national police force, strengthening community-police cooperation and revamping our prison system.”

What he fails to say is that this police force has been unleashed on innocent demonstrators, that this “community-police cooperation” consists of nothing but government-affiliated armed gangs that roam the streets on motorcycles looking for government opponents to beat and kill, and that this prison system now houses several political prisoners, including Leopoldo López.

To date, the government’s barbaric repression has resulted in at least 41 deaths that we know of, more than 2,519 detentions, and at least 80 documented cases of torture. Several of these atrocities are being committed by the Venezuelan National Guard, a component of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, as well as paramilitary elements of the so-called “People’s Guard” that is closely affiliated with the National Guard.

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