MIAMI (CBSMiami) –As the violence worsens in Venezuela, several South Florida lawmakers have come out asking for sanctions to be imposed against the country’s socialist regime led by President Nicolas Maduro.
On Thursday, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart announced their plans to sponsor a resolution and legislation that would penalize Maduro’s government for what some say are the human rights violations it’s committed against members of the opposition.READ MORE: Haiti's contributions to South Florida in full display at Haitian Heritage Month Art Exhibition
“More needs to be done,” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said of the U.S. response thus far.
Local Venezuelans were present at Thursday’s press conference in Doral, including Doral Mayor Luigi Boria.
“We don’t want another Syria in Venezuela,” he said. “We don’t want more blood.”
The violence continues Thursday as security forces and demonstrators clashed in the streets.
The protestors, many of them students, blame the government for crime, inflation and product shortages in the country.
At least five people have been killed and dozens more are hurt.
Peaceful rallies have been held from Weston to Downtown Miami.READ MORE: What we know about the victims of the Texas school shooting
Protestors say they want to be the voice for their countrymen, who are often silenced and censored.
“The best friend of tyranny is silence,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said. “We can’t remain silent.”
Earlier this week, Sen. Bill Nelson called for an investigation into the situation.
On Thursday, Senator Marco Rubio released a lengthy statement, which said in part “The Administration should use every diplomatic means necessary to draw attention to the courageous efforts of Venezuelans, the cowardice of Maduro’s government, and impose sanctions on those planning and actively participating in repressive and violent acts.”
His Republican congressional colleagues echo his sentiments.
“Neutrality is not an option,” Ros-Lehtinen said emphatically.
Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the U.S Government reduce oil imports from Venezuela by at least 10% and direct the Permanent U.S. Representative at the Organization of American States (OAS) to call for a special session of the general assembly to discuss the crisis.MORE NEWS: Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday Starts This Weekend
A peace rally is planned for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at J.C. Bermudez Park in Doral.