New US Bill to address humanitarian crisis in Venezuela

New US Bill to address humanitarian crisis in Venezuela

Agency News

New York, Apr 4: A bipartisan group of US senators introduced a legislation that aims to provide the new delivery of humanitarian aid, expand the utilization of economic tools, such as sanctions, establish US policy to support interim President Juan Guaido, and support the economic reconstruction in Venezuela, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez’s press office said in a release on Wednesday.

“The Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance and Development (VERDAD) Act drastically increases humanitarian assistance, expands current tools to address kleptocracy, formally recognizes and supports the Interim President of Venezuela’s efforts to restore democracy and prosperity in the country, and accelerates planning with international financial institutions to advance the country’s post-Maduro reconstruction,” the statement said.

The bill, introduced by Senators Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Cardin, Dick Durbin, John Cornyn, Tim Kaine and Chris Coons among others, would provide $400 million of humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, the text of the document said. “Congress is coming together in a bipartisan manner to put teeth behind our support for the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore democracy and address a humanitarian catastrophe of unprecedented proportions in our hemisphere," Menendez said.

The legislation would also reaffirm the US support for Guaido and the opposition-led National Assembly, and establish US policy to pursue "a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the Venezuelan crisis," according to the act.

In addition, the bill seeks to revoke visas for relatives of Venezuelans sanctioned in relation to human rights abuses and lift the sanctions on those individuals not involved in human rights violations if they pledge their support to Guaido, as well as it would require the Trump administration to cooperate with Latin American and European governments to enforce their own sanctions.

"Critically, this bill sanctions corrupt officials, narco-traffickers, and human rights abusers, while providing incentives for military officials who break from the Maduro dictatorship," Cruz said. The act appeals to the US government to "repurpose the corrupt financial holdings" of Venezuelan authorities, and pursues to engage in the reconstruction of Venezuela’s economy in cooperation with international financial institutions, according to the text of the document. Earlier on Wednesday, the US Department of State said the United States has pre-positioned humanitarian aid for the people of Venezuela in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, as well as in Colombia and Brazil.

Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela on January 23 and the United States and 54 countries recognized him as Venezuela’s leader. Actual President Nicolas Maduro has called Guaido a puppet of the United States and accused Washington of trying to conduct a coup in order to force a government change in Venezuela and claim the country’s resources. Russia, China, Turkey, Bolivia and numerous other countries have said they recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s only legitimate president. (SPUTNIK)