Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement in response to the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

“For more than a decade, the Venezuelan people have suffered under the authoritarian rule of Hugo Chavez. He cracked down on freedom of the press and arrested judges and opposition leaders who didn’t agree with him. Additionally, he used petro dollars stolen from the Venezuelan people to extend his influence and fund the sinister agendas of cruel dictators like Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Assad.

“Now, there is hope for the restoration of freedom in Venezuela with truly free and fair elections, renewal of a civil society, and the protection of an independent press.  I share the hopes of South Florida's patriotic Venezuelan community that today will mark a new era and the start of a brighter future for their beloved country.”