House advances measure to push feds for action on Venezuela

Venezuelan protests
The memorial was heard by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

A measure proposed by state Rep. Richard Stark urging Congress to take further action on the crisis in Venezuela (HM 205) advanced out of its first committee on Wednesday.

Stark, a Weston Democrat, put forward a nonbinding House memorial to make the request of Congress.

“This memorial requests Congress to urge the government of Venezuela to allow delivery of humanitarian assistance, to continue to intensify financial sanctions against the regime of Nicolás Maduro, and to instruct the appropriate federal agencies to hold the regime accountable for violations of law and abuses of internationally-recognized human rights,” Stark said at Wednesday’s hearing. “This is Cuba-lite.”

A memorial does not need approval from the Governor after it is passed by the Legislature. Rather, it is a way to petition the federal government to take a specific action.

The memorial was heard by the House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. The measure was presented last year but failed to pass. Stark, who represents House District 104, argues that changes since that time make the memorial even more necessary this session.

“Since 2014, the United States has been sanctioning the Maduro regime,” Stark noted.

“But things have gotten quite dicey over the last year. There were elections that were held, they were sham elections. The government of Nicolás Maduro and his party have squandered the resources of this nation.”

Florida’s legislators at both the state and national level have spoken out in support of Venezuela’s National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó. Guaidó has been recognized by the U.S. as Venezuela’s rightful President following questions regarding the re-election of Maduro.

The country has also faced economic hardship with hyperinflation and shortages of vital goods and services, including food. Stark says efforts by Floridians to aid the Venezuelan people are being blocked, necessitating help from Congress.

“We have organizations all over Florida that collect money and collect goods and services to bring to Venezuela and they’re not allowed to deliver them.”

Stark acknowledged that the rapidly evolving power struggle within Venezuela could lead to changes in the measure’s language before a final vote. But he said it’s an important first step to achieve his ultimate goal of pushing for new leadership in the country.

“We’re looking for a peaceful regime change in Venezuela and something to benefit the people of Venezuela and everybody that lives around them,” Stark said.

“We may actually have to change this by the time it hits the floor based on current events. But this is a very important dictate that we say to the federal government that we know that change has to happen. And we have many Venezuelans in Florida and this affects them.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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