Sen. Marco Rubio responds to a NYT op-ed by President Nicolás Maduro:
Re "Venezuela: A Call for Peace" (Op-Ed, April 2):
According to President Nicolás Maduro, life in Venezuela is better than ever, with some minor inconveniences. That was the impression he attempted to give readers.
However, Venezuela is plagued by one of the world's highest murder rates, rampant corruption related to state assets, a 57 percent inflation rate, a junk rating on the global bond markets and unprecedented scarcity of goods as basic as toilet paper. Venezuela's government long ago ceased to be a democracy, by failing to live up to its responsibilities under the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Since Feb. 4, Venezuelans have protested the lack of economic opportunity, public safety, freedom and basic needs, only to be met with brutal state-sanctioned violence.
Mr. Maduro has hailed his efforts at "building a new national police force, strengthening community-police cooperation and revamping our prison system." He did not disclose that this police force has been unleashed on innocent demonstrators, this "community-police cooperation" manifests itself through groups of armed thugs that routinely roam the streets on motorcycles looking for government opponents to beat and kill, and this prison system now houses several political prisoners, including Leopoldo López.
Congress should resist Mr. Maduro's charm offensive, expose his regime's brutal nature and adopt the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which authorizes sanctions on people involved in serious human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela.