WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio stepped up his pressure on the Obama administration to drop the hammer on Venezuelan officials involved in that country’s crackdown on peaceful protesters.
In a letter Wednesday to the White House, Rubio, a Florida Republican, requested that the Obama administration use the authority it has to impose visa bans and asset freezes on Venezuelan leaders involved in repressive tactics against their own citizens.
Since February, Venezuelans protesting the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have been met with often brutal state-sanctioned violence, according to human rights activists and political leaders. According to Rubio’s letter this week, more than 40 people have died and “beatings of protesters have been routine.”
While members of Congress continue to work on legislation to impose sanctions, Rubio on Wednesday urged President Barack Obama to take action now.
He wrote: “Many senior Venezuelan officials and businessmen with ties to the regime frequently travel to and house their investments in the United States. They buy residences here. They use our banks and send their children to school in the United States…. You already have the ability to begin to make life more difficult for those involved in brutal human rights abuses and corruption. By preventing these individuals and their families from traveling to and investing in the United States, you can make clear that those who violate the Venezuelan people's fundamental freedoms will pay a significant price.”