“This is the moment to point out that Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro’s abuse of his fellow citizens is intolerable to the United States,” Sen. Cruz said. “If he wants better relations with us, he should start by listening to the demands of his own people. He should lift the cloud of censorship that he is using to isolate Venezuelans from each other and from the rest of the world. And the United States should do all it can to help the people of Venezuela as they choose a different path, a path of freedom and prosperity, that will return this one-time enemy to its traditional role of our partner and friend. It would benefit them, it would benefit us, and it would benefit the world.”
Additionally, Sen. Cruz called for the immediate and unconditional release of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is being detained ostensibly for his efforts to organize protests, but as Sen. Cruz pointed out, Lopez’ only crime has been to propose a free-market alternative to the repressive socialist policies that have resulted in the rampant inflation and chronic shortages that are making life in Venezuela insufferable.
The Senator noted that the long-standing commercial ties between Iran and Venezuela, not to mention their mutual hatred of the United States, would make Venezuela a likely proliferation partner for Iran if that country should achieve nuclear weapons capability now that the United States has relaxed economic sanctions. The Senator urged that sanctions swiftly be re-imposed, and called for Sen. Harry Reid and the Democrat leadership in the Senate to cease obstructing a vote on Sen. Res. 1881, the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act.
Moreover, Sen. Cruz highlighted communist Cuba’s participation in the brutal crackdown on the protestors. Over the fifteen years of Hugo Chavez’ rule, Venezuela and Cuba engaged in a mutually-parasitic relationship in which Venezuela has exported free oil to Cuba and imported the repressive apparatus of a police state that Raul and Fidel Castro have carefully nurtured over the last fifty years. It is a vicious cycle that must be broken.
Sen. Cruz commended the work of Austin-based Zello that has created an application to successfully bypass Venezuela’s heavy censorship to provide a direct communication service to some 600,000 Venezuelans since the protests began. Recalling the proud tradition of Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, the Senator lauded Zello’s work as an example of how we can use technology to support those fighting for economic and political freedom around the globe.
In the event that Venezuela embraces free-market and political reforms, the Senator also urged that the U.S. help Venezuela reach its full energy potential by offering a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that would cover the energy sector. Such an arrangement would protect American companies eager to invest in Venezuela, and at the same time modernize facilities and increase production of crude – which could be refined at the CITGO facilities at Corpus Christi. This would result in gasoline and other refined petroleum products that can be sold on the open market for the benefit of the Venezuelan people, without propping up the Castro regime in Cuba.
Sen. Cruz concluded his remarks calling on the Obama Administration to halt its failed repeated attempts at diplomatic rapprochement with Maduro’s oppressive regime and instead look for ways to empower the Venezuelan protestors fighting for prosperity and freedom.
February 26, 2014