Florida politicians from both parties on Thursday called upon President Joe Biden to uphold sanctions against the Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro after the Presidential administration made contact with the South American country in an attempt to obtain oil.
The letter, penned by Rep. Carlos Gimenez also featured signatures from Florida-based U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, also including state-level politicians in Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. Questioning why the U.S. government is considering the easing of sanctions in exchange for oil production in wake of Biden’s decision to ban the purchase of Russian oil, the letter lists a laundry list of atrocities committed by the Maduro regime, including various systematic killing and torture that have been deemed crimes against humanity.
“By negotiating with the Maduro dictatorship, your administration is undermining American foreign policy towards Venezuela and is neglecting the U.S. commitment to the Venezuelan exile community,” states the letter. ” [We] represent several thousands of Venezuelan nationals, most who have come to the United States fleeing the brutality and the butchery committed by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.”
Here it is, as I told you earlier the White House offered to abandon those seeking freedom from #Venezuela in exchange for an insignificant amount of oil & this announcement below from the narco-dictator #Maduro https://t.co/9tKX0vknKG
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 8, 2022
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat Representative, additionally spoke out against Venezuelan diplomacy while also praising the release of 2 Americans from a prison in the country.
“Critically, neither this hostage release, nor Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, warrant allowing the murderous Maduro regime to quickly stockpile petrol profits as Venezuelans still starve for food, medicine and basic human rights under his autocratic rule,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “Sanctions relief should only be considered when there is a clear and irreversible commitment to restore free and fair presidential elections and cease attacks on the rule of law.
The lawmakers also asked Biden to ensure that the U.S. diplomatically considers Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidóis recognized as the nation’s head of government, a stance that the U.S. has held since Donald Trump’s tenure in office.
Biden’s meetings with Venezuelan officials have drawn criticism nationwide, with skepticism arising from both Democrats and Republicans as to why Biden is turning to a heavily-sanctioned nation as a result of heavily sanctioning another.
“Nicolás Maduro is a cancer to our hemisphere and we should not breathe new life into his reign of torture and murder,” Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey said in a statement on Monday. “As such, I would strongly oppose any action that fills the pockets of regime oligarchs with oil profits while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms, and even food.”