WASHINGTON— The U.S. House of Representatives approved two amendments, both authored by Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and co-led by other Members of Florida’s congressional delegation, to strengthen democracy and the rule of law within Venezuela and to prevent the crisis in that country from threatening U.S. national security.
This is the latest effort by this group of Florida representatives to shine a light on the brutal and authoritarian nature of the regime of Nicolás Maduro; to support the people of Venezuela in their quest for freedom, democracy, and better quality of life; and to prevent the problems in this essentially failed state from damaging U.S. national security. Each Member represents a significant Venezuelan-American population, including many families that were forced to flee Venezuela.
“The Maduro regime is not only a menace to the people of Venezuela, who are suffering terribly and leaving the country en masse as a result of the regime’s cruelty and mismanagement, but is it also a threat to U.S. national security interests. The regime colludes with drug trafficking organizations that target the U.S. market and aligns itself with foreign governments that do not share America’s interests or values,” said Murphy. “Our legislative efforts will ensure the United States has a comprehensive strategy in place to combat the threat posed by the Maduro regime and will help the people of Venezuela restore democracy in this failed state.”
The first amendment, which was also co-sponsored by Rep. Mario Diáz-Balart, R-Fla., and included in the annual defense bill approved on Tuesday, requires the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to submit to Congress an assessment of the political, economic, health, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, and to describe the different ways in which that crisis could undermine U.S. national security and regional stability. For example, the report would examine:
- how the migration of millions of citizens from Venezuela to neighboring countries affects regional stability.
- how the crisis has made it easier for drug trafficking organizations and other criminal actors to operate in Venezuela and the broader region, with many of those illegal drugs ending up on the streets of Florida and other states.
- the malign influence of external actors in Venezuela, including China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia, and the risk this poses to U.S. security interests.
- the impact of COVID-19 on the health and humanitarian situation in Venezuela.
The second amendment, included in the bill funding the U.S. State Department approved by the House today, increases funding for efforts by the State Department, working with Venezuelan partners, to promote fair and transparent elections, uphold human rights, strengthen civil society, defend the rule of law, and support independent media in Venezuela. The original bill had funded these efforts at $30 million, and the Murphy-led amendment increased that to $33 million, an unprecedented amount.
“More than any other community in the country, South Florida knows firsthand the evils of socialism and authoritarianism,” said Shalala. “These amendments are important to continue our fight to bring about a democratic transition of power away from the despotic rule of Nicolas Maduro and his cadre of crooks and kleptocrats.”
“The aid included in this appropriations bill is another important step toward ensuring that the United States continues to provide humanitarian assistance to the Western Hemisphere, that democracy prevails in Venezuela, and that we support democratic institutions globally,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “This increase in funding will help shine a light on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and support their pursuit of democracy. These bipartisan amendments build on the work we’ve already done to ensure the safety of the Venezuelan people and the national security of the United States, and we will continue to do so.”
“The legislation we passed this week ensures our nation is lending a hand to the Venezuelan people who are suffering through instability and brutal economic pain at the hands of the despotic Maduro regime,” said Wasserman Schultz. “I’m proud that Democrats secured provisions to increase funding for democracy promotion, human rights, and civil society programs in Venezuela and enhance our efforts to prevent the crisis from compromising regional stability or our national security.”
“Venezuela entered 2020 as the site of the largest humanitarian, economic and political crisis in modern history,” said Soto. “With the global coronavirus pandemic threatening to further exacerbate the dire situation, legislative action is critical to alleviating the suffering of innocent Venezuelans as they experience a crisis within a crisis. I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading these amendments that uphold our core American values of human decency and democracy. We will continue to stand with Venezuelan citizens as they fight to restore power to the people.”