On Monday, the U.S. House passed on voice vote a proposal from freshman U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., stopping the export of “defense articles and crime control materials from the United States to the security forces of Venezuela.”
At the end of January, Shalala unveiled the “Venezuela Arms Restriction Act,” insisting these “tools are often used by the illegitimate Maduro regime to attack its own people, often with lethal consequences.” This is the first bill Shalala introduced in the House. Shalala’s bill would add and codify American policy and add “articles that are used for crime control such as tear gas and riot gear.”
Shalala weighed in on her proposal after getting it through the House.
“The world has witnessed the violent actions of Maduro’s security forces and their use of arms, rubber bullets, tear gas, and other dangerous weapons to violently disperse crowds during peaceful protests,” said Shalala. “With the passage of the Venezuela Arms Restriction Act, we will move one step closer to ensuring that no weapons originating in the United States are used to silence dissent through intimidation, repression, or execution.
“Ever since Nicolas Maduro usurped power in January, the Venezuelan people and the interim President Juan Guaido have made it clear that Maduro must go,” added Shalala. “People are poorer and sicker under Maduro’s power grab, and the United States and our Latin American allies stand together as we continue to apply pressure on the Maduro regime. I want to thank Chairman Elliott Engel of the Foreign Affairs Committee for working with us to bring peace and freedom to the people of Venezuela.”
The bill had solid support from the Florida delegation as Democrat U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Other backers include U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-NJ, and U.S. Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, R-PR.
“As an original cosponsor of the Venezuela Arms Restriction Act, I strongly support preventing the sale of weapons to Venezuela’s security services. These weapons could be used to further violently oppress the Venezuelan people, and to benefit drug trafficking, corruption, and other criminal activity of Maduro and his cronies,” Diaz-Balart said on Monday.
So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. Senate.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.