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Rubio: Human Rights, Liberty, Democracy Being Disrupted In Venezuela

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Senator Marco Rubio gave an impassioned speech earlier this week outlining the major problems in Venezuela. The issue hits home to many in South Florida and Senator Rubio is continuing his push for the U.S. government to do something about the demonstrations and government retaliations.

“I’m not diminishing what’s happening in Ukraine and now the Crimean region is not significant to our national interest. But I would also argue that what happens in our own hemisphere is critically important to us,” Rubio said. “The foundations of our foreign policy and our national identity are a commitment to human rights, to liberty, and to democracy and freedom, and to peace. All of which are being disrupted in Venezuela.”

Rubio’s plan was outlined in a resolution he filed Thursday. The resolution contains what Rubio described as a “strong condemnation on behalf of the government against peaceful protesters in Venezuela, primarily students.”

In addition, Rubio said the he wants the visas of key individuals in the Venezuelan government to be revoked. Rubio described many of the individuals who should be targeted as ones who “parade up and down Florida, own property here, have bank accounts here, steal money from the Venezuelan government and deposit it here, invest it in Florida.”

“I’m looking for some sort of sanctions against those individuals as there is precedent for doing in the past against other individuals of government who abuse people,” Rubio told CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez.

While not Allen West claiming countless Communists are in the U.S. government or Joseph McCarthy saying he has a list of people that are communists; the natural question based on Rubio’s statement is what individuals is he talking about and how many of those individuals are there in the United States.

Rubio said that it’s an issue that the U.S. government would have to work through. He declined to name any names because he didn’t want “to be identifying people who are not responsible for it and that I think is the next step in the process is identifying who those individuals are.”

Still, there are some Senator Rubio believes are clearly responsible like Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the people around him.

“We’re going to have to identify more of those individuals, identifying by name and that really is something the state department needs to decide based on concrete evidence. We don’t want to be unjust here,” Rubio said. “I think it would send a very powerful message to military leaders in Venezuela who have long said they don’t want to be involved in attacking unarmed civilians. A very strong message that there will be repercussions and consequences for following orders to do so.

While the U.S. hasn’t announced any formal sanctions or penalties against Venezuela, one idea that has been tossed around by some is a boycott of Venezuelan oil to the United States. Rubio said it’s a policy that should be explored, but not necessarily enacted yet.

“I’m not prepared to take that step yet. I’m not quite sure that that in and of itself would solve these problems that we’re facing because quite frankly Venezuelan production has just plummeted in the last couple of years,” Rubio said.

The senator continued, “They use their state owned agency as a piggy bank and they don’t reinvest it back into technologies to increase their drilling capacity. They’re basically using it to fund all sort of programs….I would say the most devastating sanctions against their oil industry have been imposed by their own governments incompetence.”

For Senator Rubio, there’s one underlying theme to what’s going on in Venezuelan, Cuba, and specifically the regime of Raul Castro.

“The Cubans have, quite frankly, usurped a lot of the power that is going on in Venezuela, the Venezuelan government. They control or are deeply involved in many elements of state security apparatus and I believe they control Nicolas Maduro and the decisions that he makes,” Rubio told CBS4. “I know this to be true and it was true of Hugo Chavez. They have a tremendous amount of influence and control over what the Venezuelan government does. As you can see in some of the tactics the Venezuelan government is adopting to crack down and they are quite similar to the tactics the Cuban government has used.”

Finally, Rubio had harsh words for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in South Florida Wednesday.

“I saw last night Hillary Clinton in Miami say Venezuela is a democracy and no one can dispute that,” Rubio said. “I dispute that. Democracy isn’t just having an election. Democracy is governing like a democratic government.”

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