WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen spoke Tuesday on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding the detainment of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
She also introduced House Resolution 488, supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest for democratic change. The legislation:
- Supports the people of Venezuela in their pursuit of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly to promote democratic principles in Venezuela;
- Deplores the inexcusable violence perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters in Venezuela, and the growing efforts to use politically-motivated criminal charges to intimidate the country's political opposition;
- Urges responsible nations throughout the international community to stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and to actively encourage a process of dialogue between the government of Venezuela and the political opposition to end the violence; and
- Urges the Organization of American States to immediately convene the Permanent Council to seek the most effective way to expeditiously end the violence in Venezuela in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
"With at least over a dozen dead and more than 100 injured in countrywide protests against the Maduro regime, the United States has a moral obligation to take a clear stand in support of the Venezuelan people," Ros-Lehtinen said. "My resolution expressing solidarity with the people of Venezuela will send a clear message to Maduro and his thugs: We are watching how they treat their citizens, and their abusive actions will not go without consequences. I urge the administration to keep the pressure on the leaders of Venezuela to end the violence and respect their citizens' dignity, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to support me in this fight."
Ros-Lehtinen finished her speech with:
"It is right and fitting for the U.S. House of Representatives to pay attention to the case of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been unjustly imprisoned by the puppet regime of Nicolas Maduro.
"Leopoldo is a grass-roots leader and founder of the political party Voluntad Popular. He has been wrongfully accused of criminal incitement, conspiracy, arson and intent to damage property. Leopoldo is being held in a military prison and his proceedings have been kept secret from the public. We cannot stand idly by while democracy and due process are trampled on in our own hemisphere.
"Being silent is not an option. Venezuelan students have been peacefully demonstrating against a regime that has no qualms with repressing protests with live ammunition and shock groups whose tactics are extremely violent. Those of us who advocate for freedom have a moral responsibility to support the students in Caracas, Merida, San Cristobal, Valencia and throughout Venezuela, who through peaceful means seek the way to create a more perfect union, with democracy and freedom as their guide."
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