Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee paved the way for sanctions to be applied to Venezuelan officials implicated in human rights violations since the start of the protests in February of this year. The draft bill asks President Barack Obama to deny visas and freeze assets in the United Sates belonging to Venezuelan officials responsible for human rights violations, including the censoring of media and individuals.
Pending approval on the House floor, the bill is far from becoming a legal reality. The author of the bill, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), said:
For three months now, the Maduro regime in Venezuela has committed grave human rights violations as it seeks to muzzle students who are peaceful and the Venezuelan people who are calling for the respect of human rights and democracy to really take hold in this country.
Other opponents believe that we should wait and see what the peace process can resolve. Well, I ask, when is it a good time? How many more people have to be innocently killed for the “time” to be right? It will never be right – Maduro is the one perpetrating the violence.
Responding to these news, Maduro qualified the attempts to impose sanctions by the United States as “stupid threats“, and continued:
I don’t even want to respond to these threats and stupidity. We will continue to dedicate ourselves to building a homeland, and we will not allow anyone to mess with the interests of our country. Now they’re going around with this stupidity. Supposedly they want to sanction us. The people of Bolivar will not be stopped by the sanctions of any empire, the country of Bolivar stands on its own feet and it will continue to do so.
In response,Attorney General of Venezuela Luisa Ortega Diaz said that if the United States were to impose sanctions against Venezuelan officials, she would request the same be done to Unites States officials at the Venezuelan National Assembly.
Here are a couple of pictures from a demonstration on the situation in Venezuela in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.:
In Other News
Today marks the start of the “Plan Especial de la Nueva Ofensiva Economica” [Special Plan for the New Economic Offensive], an initiative aimed to tackle the problems affecting the Venezuelan economy, which in turn have created the worst scarcity crisis in years.
On the initiative, Maduro said:
They’re going over there to take with them a special plan for production and economic growth, to solve the problems in the chain of production of shoes, textiles, food, automobile [industries] of the public and private sectors.
This initiative comes on the same day that the Confederacion Venezolana de Industriales (CONINDUSTRIA)[Venezuelan Confederation of Industry] announced that Venezuelan industry is currently going through its worst time in over a decade. According to CONINDUSTRIA Venezuelan industrial production capacity sat at 48.02% for the first three months of the year, a figure which is 4% lower than it was at the same time in 2013, and currently sits at the worst level since the 2003 oil workers strike.
Eduardo Garmendia, the president of CONINDUSTRIA, said:
CONINDUSTRIA has said that the way in which the government is facing the economic situation, far from producing positive results, has [instead] inconvenienced industrial development.
We are at the beginning of a crisis that could become worse and that no one wants to happen.
It looks like they [the government] thinks that we are exaggerating as a way of pressuring them, which is not something we’ve done. We’ve presented [to the government] the truth, as naked as possible.
Specifically, CONINDUSTRIA points to difficulties in obtaining raw materials, socio-political and economic uncertainty as well as a lack of foreign currency as the core issues at the heart of Venezuela’s industrial woes.