News / Americas

Florida Politicians Call on Obama to Protect Venezuelan Activists

Dozens of demonstrators chant and wave Venezuelan flags in Doral, Florida, Feb. 18, 2014.
Dozens of demonstrators chant and wave Venezuelan flags in Doral, Florida, Feb. 18, 2014.
Reuters
In response to mounting anti-government protests in Venezuela, Florida politicians are calling on the Obama administration to grant political asylum for people who have fled the South American nation, as well as sanctions against officials responsible for the violence.

U.S. Representative Joe Garcia said Venezuelans living in the United States deserve special consideration as they are a "target" of the Venezuelan government, which blames the United States in part for the unrest that in recent weeks has killed at least 13 people.

"To ask these people to return when we know there is credible fear of persecution ... is unjust," he told a news conference at Miami International Airport on Tuesday,
accompanied by several Venezuelan exile activists.

Florida is home to more than 100,000 Venezuelan immigrants, according to the U.S. census, and the population has grown steadily since the country elected a Socialist government in 1998, first under president Hugo Chavez and last year his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Several thousand people attended an "SOS Venezuela" rally on Saturday in the Doral suburb of Miami to show solidarity with anti-government demonstrators.

The crisis, in which more than 500 people have been arrested and about 150 injured over two weeks, has brought remonstrations from the U.S. government.

The Obama administration has denied any involvement in the unrest, although celebrities such as Madonna and Cher have spoken out against the Maduro government.

The United States on Tuesday ordered three Venezuelan diplomats to leave the country in reprisal for Maduro's expulsion of three American embassy staff accused of fomenting protests.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, addressed the street violence in Venezuela and called on the Obama administration to pursue "individuals responsible for these atrocities."

He showed enlarged photographs of demonstrators, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and a 22-year-old local beauty queen who died after being shot in the head.

In a letter to president Barack Obama delivered on Monday, Garcia, a Democrat whose congressional district includes some South American enclaves, asked the president to use his executive power to assist undocumented Venezuelans, including a special immigration designation known as Deferred Enforced Action, that would prevent them from being deported and allow them to obtain work permits in the United States.

Deferred departure has been granted to young people who were brought to the United States as children, as well Liberians who fled armed conflict.

"In light of the Venezuelan government's continuous assault on human rights and its disregard for the safety and security of its people, the United States must take these steps so that those who have left can begin productive lives in the United States while their brethren continue to fight for freedom and democracy in Venezuela," Garcia wrote.

Venezuelans in the United States are living under a variety of migratory status - some with pending asylum cases or business visas, and others facing deportation, Garcia explained.

Out of 405 asylum applications received from Venezuelans in 2011, only 205 we granted, according to Garcia's office.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, last week sent a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requesting an investigation into the Venezuelan government's response to the protests.

Two other Miami Republican members of Congress, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also say they plan to file legislation to block U.S. visas for Venezuelan government officials responsible for the violence.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Right to Die: Colombian Man Ends Life with Government Backup

After heated public debate and last-minute legal challenges, 79-year-old becomes first Colombian to die as result of government-sanctioned euthanasia
More

3 Mexican Journalists Assassinated in Week

Rights groups call on Mexican authorities to thoroughly investigate recent murders in Oaxaca, Veracruz and Guanajuato
More

Ecuador Is Prime Example at Heart of Pope's Climate Stance

Pope Francis begins his South America tour this weekend in country that is prime example of tensions between politics, business and environment
More

Experts: US-Cuba Moves Likely to Deepen N Korea’s Isolation

Korea University professor sees US-Cuba normalization as 'quite an ideological eye-opener' for Pyongyang, a longtime Havana ally
More

Pope to Tour 3 South American Countries

Grueling, week-long trip will showcase Francis at his unpredictable best: speaking his native Spanish on his home turf about issues closest to his heart
More

Congress Aims to Keep Bans on Dealing with Cuban Military

Proposed legislation would ban Americans from engaging in any financial transactions with the Cuban military or the Cuban Ministry of the Interior
More