Puebla, Mexico, March 2 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – US Senators unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to take further action against Venezuelan officials.
The bill also expressed support for a controversial move by Organisation of American States (OAS) head Luis Almagro to invoke the Democratic Charter. If invoked, Venezuela would be suspended from the OAS. When Almagro first announced the move in 2016, he also demanded President Nicolas Maduro be “immediately” removed from office, prompting many Latin American leaders to accuse the OAS head of overreach.
Despite the controversy, the Senate bill called on Trump to “provide full support for OAS efforts in favour of constitutional and democratic solutions to the political impasse and to instruct federal agencies to hold officials of the Venezuelan government accountable for violations of US law and abuses of internationally recognised human rights.”
The bill will now head to the House of Representatives.
One of the main supporters of the bill, Senator Marco Rubio, thanked both Republicans and Democrats for supporting the move.
“I thank my Senate colleagues for supporting this bipartisan resolution calling for the government of Venezuela to respect the constitutional and democratic processes and release all political prisoners,” Rubio said in a statement.
The bill was co-sponsored by prominent Democrats including Senators Bob Menendez and Bill Nelson, along with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential running mate Tim Kaine.
Venezuela has already been hit by numerous US sanctions. One of former president Barack Obama’s last acts in office was the renewal of an executive order in January, declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to national security.
The executive order wasn’t set to expire until March, though White House officials said Obama went ahead with renewal early to ensure a “a smooth transition” for the Trump administration.
Since then, the Trump administration has slapped Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami with sanctions, including a travel ban and an asset freeze targeting one of his alleged close confidants, the entrepreneur Samark Lopez. Both Aissami and Lopez have been accused of involvement in international drug trafficking. Aissami has denied the allegations, stating in February that he was the victim of anti-Venezuela hardliners in Washington “ “whose fundamental interest is to prevent Venezuela and the United States from restoring their political and diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect”.
“These interest groups not only lack any evidence to demonstrate the extremely serious accusations against me, but they also have built a false-positive case in order to criminalise –through me– the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a country that is decidedly waging a war on transnational drug trafficking business,” he said.