By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. April 11, 2014: Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), says she is concerned by the lack of action by the Barack Obama administration against the human rights abuses in Venezuela.
Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the statement at a Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing Thursday.
Her comments came as Venezuelan opposition leaders began a late-night meeting with President Nicolás Maduro and his cabinet in a possible first step toward ending two months of anti-government protests and street clashes.
The meeting was broadcast live on Venezuelan television and radio, at the insistence of the opposition, and was attended by mediators from Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and the Vatican.
The representative of the Holy See in Venezuela, Aldo Giordano, opened the meeting by reading a written statement from Pope Francis urging both sides to put aside differences and summon the courage to reach an agreement.
Ros-Lehtinen said with 41 people reportedly dead; nearly 60 reported cases of torture; more than 2,000 people unjustly detained; and hundreds injured, all that the world has gotten from the administration is “almost absolute silence!”
“It is shameful that the Obama Administration continues to neglect the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” said the congresswoman.
“The President has issued an Executive Order to sanction Russian violators of human rights abuses and even up to last week … the President issued an Executive Order authorizing sanctions for South Sudan. So I ask, why can the Administration not issue the same order today on Venezuela and hold human rights violators accountable?”
Her comments came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testified in the Senate that the U.S. does not want to act in Venezuela because of bogus negotiations.
But Ros-Lehtinen says the protests in Venezuela have been going on for two months.
“It is shameful to have this silence because (President Nicolás Maduro) hears the silence. Now we’re going to use the excuse of this new negotiations period, but this negotiations ruse is a new trick, because the protests have been going on for weeks and we have not done anything,” she added.