Rep. Ros-Lehtinen: Venezuela on Verge of Collapse

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 07:11 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says the current unrest in Venezuela leads her to think the South American country "is on the verge of collapse."

"First, Hugo Chavez, a despot, who trampled on human rights, was a disaster for the people of Venezuela," Ros-Lehtenin told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

"This is an oil-rich country, and what did Mr. Chavez do? He gave it as a propaganda tool . . . to the Kennedys . . . and he gave it to other members of Congress, so that they could say nice things about Hugo Chavez, when all he was was a despot who got his marching orders from Cuba and he trampled on human rights," she said Tuesday.

Story continues below video.

Chavez was succeeded by President Nicolas Maduro, who Ros-Lehtenin said "is the next thug in line, because they don't really have elections," and has assaulted civil rights throughout the country.

"He has cracked down on the free press, he has trampled on human rights, he has taken away the freedom of assembly, and that is what is happening in the Venezuela of today," the Florida Republican said.

Ros-Lehtenin said she would like to see some sanctions leveled against Venezuela. She has proposed a bill, "and all it says is that human rights violators in Venezuela who are killing students in the streets should not be allowed in the United States."

She announced on YouTube on Friday that the House Foreign Affairs Committee had approved the bill.

She says, however, that the State Department does not support her measure and that the Obama administration has said "it is not the right time to pass sanctions against" Venezuela.

"Our do-nothing attitude in Venezuela is really endangering democracy because now it sends a message to the other countries, 'hey, you know, the United States is not getting involved, the United States is silent,'" Ros-Lehtinen added.

Forty people have died during recent protests in Venezuela, and 243 people were arrested in Caracas on Thursday as the government cracked down on four protest camps in the capital city, The New York Times reported.

The country is also suffering economically, as basic necessities such as toilet paper have become scarce.

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