#Senator Chris Coons, 4/18/19: Thank you for contacting me about the crisis in Venezuela. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue.
I am deeply concerned about the ongoing political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, a country of over 30 million people. The regime of Nicolás Maduro has been a disaster from a humanitarian and economic perspective, and his policies have thrown the Venezuelan economy into disarray. Venezuela, which was once a rich oil-producing country, is now one of the poorest in the region. Scarcity and hyperinflation have opened the door to widespread hunger and have led to mass dislocation of Venezuelans and a regional refugee crisis. The crisis has already caused over 3 million refugees to flee the country, a number that is likely to grow to over 5 million before the end of the year.
After Maduro was sworn in to serve a second term in May 2018 following an election that was widely criticized by international observers, the people of Venezuela took to the streets to defend their human rights, democracy, and fundamental freedoms. The United States and over 50 other countries have since recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the Interim President until Venezuela can hold new free, fair, and legitimate elections.
I have taken a series of actions to address the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. On April 3, a bipartisan group of my colleagues and I introduced the Venezuelan Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act. This legislation recognizes Juan Guaidó as Interim President of Venezuela, provides additional humanitarian relief to the Venezuelan people, helps to rebuild Venezuela’s economy, and takes steps to recover assets stolen by Maduro and his inner circle. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have supported over $150 million in emergency humanitarian funding to help the people of Venezuela and countries in the region assisting Venezuelan refugees. I also discussed this issue in person on more than one occasion with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and I have called attention to the suffering of the Venezuelan people in appearances on television.
While I support the use of sanctions and other U.S. tools to defend democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Venezuela, I do not support U.S. military intervention. Before such a drastic step could be taken, our country must exhaust all other options and diplomatic approaches to resolving this crisis. I am a proud co-sponsor of S.J.Res. 11, legislation prohibiting the use of funds for military action in Venezuela without congressional authorization.
This is a critical moment both in the history of Venezuela and in U.S. relations in the Western hemisphere. The United States should continue to use its diplomatic might to build a multilateral coalition with our European and North American allies and work closely with the Venezuelan opposition and people to prepare for whatever might come next. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to support a political resolution to the crisis and ensure that humanitarian assistance and essential supplies reach the Venezuelan people to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Delaware in the United States Senate and I value hearing from Delawareans on issues of concern. My website, www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.