WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Carlos A. Gimenez (FL-26) led a letter to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm condemning the Administration’s decision to open negotiations with the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Senator Rick Scott of Florida, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida joined Gimenez in the letter.
The signatories of the letter, who collectively represent the largest Venezuelan American constituency in the United States, urged the Biden Administration to maintain current U.S. sanctions on Nicolas Maduro and his associates. They also sought reaffirmation from the Biden Administration on the United States’ commitment to recognizing Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and a commitment that the United States will not allow for the importation of energy sources of any kind from Venezuelan state-owned enterprises.
“Nicolás Maduro is just another puppet of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. The fact that President Biden sent a delegation to Venezuela and is using current U.S. sanctions as a bargaining chip with an illegitimate government is a slap across the face to the thousands of Venezuelan constituents I represent. President Biden should not be jumping from one dictator to another in search of more oil. We need to be producing more right there in the United States and ensuring we are putting American oil, American jobs, American national security, and the American economy first,” Gimenez said after sending the letter.
Full text of the letter can be found below:
Dear President Biden, Secretary Blinken, Secretary Granholm:
Together, we represent several thousands of Venezuelan nationals who have come to the United States fleeing the brutality and the butchery committed by Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro. The foreign policy posture of the United States has always been to support and defend the cause of freedom and democracy, particularly of those in our own hemisphere. It is also the official policy of the United States to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela and hold no diplomatic relations with Nicolás Maduro or his henchmen. Accordingly we request, within all applicable rules and regulations, information regarding discussions with the Maduro regime.
Unfortunately, according to reports, the administration’s delegation sent to Venezuela this past week had a stated purpose to use the American sanctions placed on the Maduro regime as a bargaining chip with an illegitimate dictatorship to produce more oil. By negotiating with the Maduro dictatorship, your administration is undermining American foreign policy towards Venezuela and is neglecting the U.S. commitment to the Venezuelan exile community.
In case the administration needed a reminder of the atrocities the Chavez-Maduro political machine has committed against the people of Venezuela and against our own strategic interests, we write on behalf of our constituents in presenting the following examples:
1. The Maduro regime is a puppet regime for autocratic regimes and other state sponsors of terror around the world, including the illegitimate, communist regime in Cuba, Hezbollah in Iran, and both Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China. As a result, Maduro has allowed these anti-American forces to use Venezuela as a launchpad to permeate their tactics of violence and terrorism throughout the hemisphere.
2. Since 2014, more than 13,000 people have been unjustly arrested in Venezuela by Maduro’s security forces in connection with political opposition of the regime. According to the Human Rights Watch, a top-tier human rights watchdog group of global reach, several of those individuals jailed have been subsequently killed by the regime.
3. In 2017, Maduro and his regime dissolved the national assembly, stripping away all of its constitutional powers after opposition forces won control of the chamber.
4. In 2018, Maduro and his regime rigged the 2018 Presidential Election in Venezuela in order to maintain control. Tactics included barring political opponents from running, jailing political dissidents, and threatening punishment for individuals speaking unfavorably about the government.
5. In 2020, the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela condemned the Maduro regime for committing crimes against humanity. Maduro’s henchmen engaged in torture and killings against protestors and dissidents, using techniques such as electric shocks, genital mutilation, and asphyxiation. The findings came after investigations into nearly 3,000 cases of unjust imprisonment of Venezuelans by the regime.
As your administration continues a misguided engagement with the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela in pursuit of more foreign oil – rather than bolstering the plentiful supply of domestic production – we request answers to the following questions on behalf of our constituents:
1. Does the Biden administration still consider Juan Guaidó as the legitimate, interim President of Venezuela?
2. Did the Biden administration notify President Juan Guaidó of the visit prior to the U.S. officials’ arrival in Venezuela?
3. Is the Biden administration considering weakening current sanctions on Nicolás Maduro, his family, his associates, petrol, banking, and related industries, or entities placed by the United States in exchange for more oil production from Venezuela or any other reasons? If so, what specific sanctions are being discussed to be lifted?
4. Is the Biden administration considering purchasing any kind of energy source from Venezuela or licensing private importation of energy of any kind from Venezuelan state-owned enterprises?
5. Will the Biden administration commit to maintaining all sanctions currently put in place on the Maduro regime?
On behalf of the countless of Venezuelans who reside in South Florida, and the many more in our state and throughout the country who support freedom and democracy for the Venezuelan people, we urgently request a swift response to the above-mentioned questions.