McGovern, Castro, Meeks, Lee Lead Key Democrats Calling on the Biden Administration to Prioritize Constructive Engagement with Venezuela

WASHINGTON – Today, Reps. James P. McGovern (MA-02), ranking member of the House Rules Committee, Joaquin Castro (TX-20), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Barbara Lee (CA-12), ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, led key Democratic members of Congress in a letter calling on the Biden administration to prioritize avenues for constructive engagement with Venezuela on democracy, human rights, and diplomatic re-engagement as the United States moves away from the punitive “maximum pressure” approach imposed by the previous administration.

“Because we share your view that human rights should be at the center of U.S. foreign policy, we have been deeply troubled by the extensive reporting on the indiscriminate and counterproductive impacts on the Venezuelan people of the secondary and sectoral sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration. These kinds of sanctions have often been found to be ineffective in achieving their objectives and are profoundly incoherent from a human rights perspective. In our view, to purposefully continue contributing to economic hardship experienced by an entire population is immoral and unworthy of the United States…For these reasons, we welcomed the steps taken by the Administration last year which facilitated the release of several American prisoners and the resumption of negotiations between the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition, mediated by Norway, in Mexico last November,” lawmakers wrote.

“While skepticism regarding Maduro’s commitment to the negotiations process is warranted, we believe that an important opportunity currently exists to address Venezuela’s multifaceted crisis by building on the positive outcomes of the November 2022 negotiations and the April 25th international conference, attended by 19 countries and the European Union. Given the high costs of the crisis for the Venezuelan people and the hemisphere broadly, we believe it is imperative that the Administration respond to this opportunity by empowering the Venezuelan people who are seeking to rebuild their country and their future,” lawmakers continued.

In the letter, lawmakers request updates from the Biden administration on implementation of the Social Fund, conditions for diplomatic re-engagement and the resumption of direct flights from Venezuela to the United States, support for non-governmental organizations, advancement of human rights, establishment of a new Special Representative for Venezuela, and actions to support free and fair elections for Venezuela in 2024 and 2025. To read the full letter, click here.

The letter is additionally signed by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Bill Keating (MA-09), Sydney Kamlanger-Dove (CA-37), Juan Vargas (CA-52), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-00), Hank Johnson (GA-04), and Ted Lieu (CA-36).