Venezuela sanctions bill passes in the US Senate

bob and marco

Sens. Marco Rubio (left, R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 has passed the US Senate. The bill includes provisions for targeted sanctions against individuals linked to the Venezuelan government found to have violated human rights. These include asset freezes, visa revocations, and other penalties. It also urges the Secretary of State to support civil society in Venezuela.

The text of the bill is here: S. 2142. The press release from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is here.The White House has expressed support for the bill.

This was the bill that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) had placed a hold on. Sen. Landrieu was defeated last Saturday in her bid for reelection.

The highlight from Sen. Menendez’s press release:

“We must always stand against human rights violations, political persecution and recrimination anywhere in the world, and certainly in our hemisphere. The Venezuelan people deserve a brighter future, not the dismal nightmare they’re enduring at the hands of President Maduro. Our fight to deliver hope and renewed opportunity to Venezuela has only begun.”

35 thoughts on “Venezuela sanctions bill passes in the US Senate

  1. That was fast. I have to say I have very mixed feelings about this measure. Although I like seeing the U.S. take a stand, I fear that they are giving Chavismo more excuses to blame all of their failings on “El Imperio”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have the same mixed feelings. It would be nice to see some regional buy-in to the idea that the Maduro regime’s behavior is unacceptable. All that’s going to happen are a bunch of flag burnings and some cancelled reservations in Vail this season, I fear. If anyone really had the courage of their convictions, they’d just stop the oil.


      • Although I have to say I am both extremely surprised and thrilled to see the endorsement of Human Rights Watch in the bill.


      • Based on the current state of oil affairs the US could easily cancel imports of Venezuelan oil. I agree with Stu, they’re not going to change their anti-US rhetoric no matter what the US does or doesn’t do. Unlike the Cuban embargo, this does not affect the average Venezuelan. I’m just wondering if these measures will have much of an effect in terms of the frozen assets since they’ve been given over half a year’s warning.


  2. I wonder what comes next. It has to be approved by the White House or some other round of votes in congress has to occur prior to this reaching Obama’s desk?

    Is this the real thing, or not?


    • Yes, it has to pass a vote in the House of Representatives. Then it goes to the White House. And, in between those steps, a lot of negotiations occur and the final bill could change radically from what was passed in the Senate. Or, it could simply die from lack of agreement on the content, or it could be vetoed by the President if he wanted to.

      Most likely, some watered-down version of the measure will eventually pass.


      • There’s no reason why this bill would be watered down, the House will pass it and Obama isn’t in the Veto-business yet (not that he would oppose it anyway).


  3. Did Landrieu kill herself? Because as far as I’m concerned her mandate is still going on, right? Why didn’t she do anything to stop that? Is she depressed? Is she missing work?


    And Roy, the chavistas have been blaming the US for everyting that goes wrong in Venezuela since day one of the revolution, I don’t think that the sanctions will modificate their modus operandi: they will keep blaming the US like they have always done, because that’s their nature.

    “Oh, but they may take that rethoric to new heights.”

    How? Will they cut oil supply to the US? (lol)
    Threatening of expelling the American ambassador? Already done.
    Threatening the West (!) with ‘total war’? Already done, seriously, it’s on youtube.
    Cut imports from the US to ‘harm’ American companies? (lol)

    They are on a dead-end there. And I’m happy that nina Cabello may have their credit card blocked by the next time she tries to buy high-end stuff on the fifth avenue.

    To hell with them all!!!


  4. It was quck. I think the people and the world are fed up with this travesty. The roads out are minimal both travel wise and economically at this point , he can cause shit inside, but if the world is watching, it may be short lived.


    • I can already envision an insane Maduro screaming and spitting on a meghone with the neck veins popping: “Before the sanctions it was all good, then the sanctions came and now you must queue to buy basic goods because shortages have become the new normal, the same thing they had done against comrade Fidel they are now doing against us!”

      But the masses wont buy that.


    • I think Chavistas resent the Venezuelan upper-classes more than the US. Making a big deal out of this would only highlight that they have assets in foreign countries that can be frozen.


      • “…Chavistas resent the Venezuelan upper-classes more than the US…”
        Not exactly, they hate all other venezuelans (aka oligarchs, aka middle class, aka escuálidos) way more than the US, because in their twisted brains, they actually think we are guilty for all the shittyness of their lives, after all, that’s what the artificial resentment and hatred speech has taught them.


  5. One of the ways that Fidel stayed in power for so long, was by creating and maintaining a “state of siege” mentality in Cuba. The United States and “El Bloqueo” became the central to the narrative of the country, a small defenseless nation struggling mightily against the might of powerful and evil empire. This became the reason for any deprivation required of the Cuban people. In fact, the blockade never prevented consumer goods from entering Cuba, but that measure became the excuse for rationing and all manner of deprivations. Look for the anti-U.S. rhetoric to be ramped up to wartime levels in the next few weeks.


    • “In fact, the blockade never prevented consumer goods from entering Cuba, but that measure became the excuse for rationing and all manner of deprivations.”

      Oh no. Venezuela will start undergoing rationing now. Venezuela will rant against US imperialism. What-ever will we do? How will we cope?

      Look, there is a case to be made against this bill, but it’s not a very solid one. The bill is limited to human rights violators. It should have no effect on the Venezuelan economy. And as for its effect on internal politics, there is *zero* evidence that foreign affairs have anything to do with how Venezuelans feel about the government. Zero.


      • Juan, I think you are right about the effect on Venezuelan domestic politics. But, the narrative still resonates in other LatAm countries. Look, I said I had mixed feelings about this. I hope this works out well, and I do think that the U.S. silence on this has gone too far.


  6. I think one argument that could hold water is that chavista cohesion solidifies in times of crisis. Inasmuch as this bill is seen as a threat inside the governing clique, it might solidify positions that were beginning to crack. On the other hand, there is little evidence the chavista coalition was cracking anyway. Nicmer does not rhyme with schism.

    It could also go the other way – chavistas who don’t want to have their Fisher Island condos raided will begin talking, or defecting.

    At any rate, it’s out of our hands.


    • Maybe this bill won´t be as effective as it is truly intended to be, specially if you consider what Alek Boyd asserts, regarding major government connections with U.S. lobbyist & American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas, who happens to be friends with Marco Rubio (e.g. cosponsor of the S. 2142). Maybe the final wording of the Law will make it a “toothless” law… if it passes.


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