venezuelan government
After weeks of Venezuelan protests in February, U.S. Senators are calling for sanctions to be placed upon Venezuelan government officials for their violent responses to the peaceful protests.

A Senate resolution proposing investigations and sanctions placed upon human rights violators in Venezuela was introduced in the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 27. Chairman Robert Menendez and Senator Marco Rubio were instrumental addressing the situation in Venezuela as they assert, “The (U.S.) should condemn Venezuela’s government for violently suppressing protests, and it should slap individual sanctions on mid and top-level officials associated with the regime in Caracas.”

The resolution also urges U.S. President Barack Obama to impose individual sanctions on government officials by denying or revoking visas, freezing their American assets and encouraging a process of dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition. The protests in Venezuela stand eerily similar to those in Ukraine and the United States government has responded similarly in both cases, which is to support peaceful resolutions and government accountability.

So far, the youth population and students have made up a substantial amount of protesters and have employed peaceful tactics to air their grievances against the Venezuelan government. Much of their unrest stems from poor economic policies that have resulted in “inflation that exceeds 50% annually, currency shortages, economic distortions, and the routine absence basic goods and foodstuffs.”

After two weeks of widespread protest, clashes between government and opposition forces have resulted in 14 deaths. In an effort to dissipate the movement, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro granted a six-day holiday to the people of Venezuela. Regardless, the protests have continued with several thousand demonstrators marching in Caracas on February 27. The National Guard responded to the protests in Caracas by implementing tear gas and water cannons to break up the march.

The situation in Venezuela has been riddled with human rights violations—as asserted by the international community—where people have been deprived of basic political rights and individual freedoms. In addition to resorting to violence to break up protests, the Venezuelan government has tried to censor media outlets covering the demonstrations. Thus far, Maduro has threatened to expel U.S. news correspondents from CNN, blocked online images of protests and censored domestic media outlets.

The resolution proposed by Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio aims to put an end to human rights violations and allow for the Venezuelan people to retain their individual liberties in living free and democratically.

Jugal Patel

Sources: Buenos Aires Herald, Latin American Herald Tribune, Bloomberg
Photo: International Business Times