Obama administration’s lack of response to Venezuelan crisis is appalling

By U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in The Hill:

Administration’s lack of response to Venezuelan crisis is appalling

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YzzXXBWzJUA/UvEiF7meLYI/AAAAAAABnPE/qVlBBvxgB28/s1600/Ileana_Ros-Lehtinen.jpgThe palpable absence of a coordinated strategy in support of the pro-democracy advocates in Venezuela is evident and yet another in a string of missed opportunities by the Obama administration to promote U.S. interests and freedom around the world.

For longer than a month now, a crisis in Venezuela has been escalating, but the stage for this had been set with the death of Hugo Chavez last March and the contested presidential elections that followed. Now, according to Venezuelan non-governmental organizations, the regime of President Nicolás Maduro is responsible for almost 30 killed, nearly 60 reported cases of torture, more than 1,500 people unjustly detained, and hundreds injured with very little attention from the Obama administration and with no reasonable end in sight.

The attacks against the Venezuelan people by the Maduro regime also have serious links to Cuba, a U.S. designated state sponsor of terrorism. The Castro regime uses military advisers and Cuban troops to help the Maduro regime suppress the calls of the Venezuelan people for democracy, freedom and human rights. Furthermore, the Venezuelan mayors of San Cristobal and San Diego, and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez have been unjustly arrested. And Diosdado Cabello — one of the country’s most dangerous goons — has threatened that another opposition leader, Maria Corina Machado, may be arrested and charged with bogus accusations as well.

On March 13, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and to my disappointment but not to my surprise, he failed to address the situation in Venezuela in both his written testimony and opening statement to the committee.  This lack of attention to this crisis is insulting and represents the foreign policy strategy of the Obama administration to stick their heads in the sand and hope these problems go away by themselves. When I pressed Kerry on Venezuela during the hearing, he responded that it is time for the Organization of American States (OAS), and neighboring countries, to focus on Venezuela and hold Maduro accountable.

I can only assume that Kerry forgot that the OAS has already tried to focus on Venezuela and failed miserably. On March 7, the OAS passed a watered-down declaration that failed to hold the Maduro regime accountable, which precipitated the U.S. permanent representative, as well as the Canadian and Panamanian representatives, to vote against this weak declaration. The lack of U.S. leadership in our region has only emboldened these tyrants to violate human rights with impunity.

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