US House passes bill seeking Venezuela sanctions
The US House of Representatives passed legislation today, to impose sanctions on Venezuelans responsible for human rights abuses during anti-government protests, despite Obama administration worries that they could threaten talks seeking to ease the unrest.
The bill would authorize the Obama administration to deny US entry visas to Venezuelans deemed responsible for rights abuses during three months of unrest and freeze their assets.
It passed by voice vote in the House, with backing from both Republicans and Democrats. A similar measure approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has not yet come before the full Senate.
"The United States Congress must stand ready to act on the cause of freedom and democracy around the globe," Florida Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a House speech seeking support for the bill.
Since anti-government demonstrations began in Venezuela in February, at least 42 people have been killed and more than 800 injured. About 3,000 people have also been arrested, with more than 200 still behind bars.
“The US Congress will show its support to those who seek #freedom in #SOSVzla,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -who sponsored the Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act- twitted.
But the White House remains reluctant to back sanctions against Caracas, arguing that more time is needed to support Unasur and Vatican’s efforts to broker peace talks between Nicolás Maduro government and opposition.
If the Senate pass the sanctions, President Barack Obama will need to decide wheter to ratify the bill or veto it.
Venezuelan President, in turn, said that he will not recognize any US law to sanction his government’s officials and stressed that if the bill passes, he will fight it “in every world stage”.