Two days after leaving the Senate, Bill S-2142 was passed by the United States House of Representatives today, effectively ensuring sanctions against Venezuelan officials. The bill was approved unanimously through a voice vote.
The bill will freeze the financial assets of Venezuelan officials suspected of being involved in the human rights violations stemming from the protests earlier this year. It will also revoke visas and prohibit entry into the United States for the same individuals.
The bill’s author, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) spoke to the media shortly after the bill passed, saying:
The people of Venezuela have been crying out for help. Today, Congress speaks in a unified and bipartisan voice.
Representative Juan Vargas (D-CA) also spoke on the important of the bill, saying:
The world has watched closely over the last year as Venezuela’s president has stifled the Democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people. Peaceful protesters seeking basic rights and dignity have been met with violence.
El Nacional is reporting that the list of officials to be sanctioned includes 24 names, including:
- Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz
- Bolivar state governor Francisco Rangel Gomez
- Merida state governor Alexis Ramirez
- Tachira state governor Jose Vielma Mora
- Ex-Minister of the Interior Miguel Rodriguez Torres
- Ex-SEBIN director Manuel Bernal Martinez
On the other hand, El Nuevo Herald – a Miami-based newspaper – claims to have seen a preliminary list of officials to be sanctioned which contained 56 names, and claims that sources close to the bill say the list could be expanded to include as many as 200 individuals.
The bill will now go to President Obama’s desk. Once he signs it, it will become law.
Venezuela May Call Emergency OPEC Meeting
Speaking at an event in Barinas state today, Maduro said:
Look, the day before yesterday oil dipped below $57 a barrel, and yesterday it went up to $58 (…) We are doing all we can so that the price of oil bounces back up to where it should be.
Maduro also said that Venezuela has an advantage insofar as it only costs the country around $12 to produce a barrel of oil.
Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez said today that the country was considering calling an OPEC emergency meeting depending on how oil prices behave in the first three months of 2015.
December 10: International Human Rights Day
Today is International Human Rights Day.
Below, a picture from one of the protests that broke out in the country this year: