Support Venezuela: Sanctions-Grant Immigration Status-Actions to Support Democracy

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Marietta, GA May 28, 2017 

We are a group of Venezuelan-American concerned citizens claiming to alert and inform what is happening in Venezuela, a country just 2,799 miles south of the United States of America.  
Venezuelans have been drawn into a dictatorial regime by the manipulation of the democratic system under the tutelage of the Cuban Intelligence Directorate also known as "G-2". Venezuela, once the most prosperous country of Latin America known as the fifth largest oil and gas producer in the world, is now languishing in violence, sickness and hunger.  
Venezuelan currency is worthless, investment is gone, non-existent; more than a thousand of the main industries have been expropriated and in consequence, stores are almost empty. Nicolas Maduro as main head of the government, his family and cohorts, are living like royalty in the fashion of Assad, Qaddafi, and similar despots with properties and assets all over the world including the US; while the countrymen are literally starving and beaten into submission.  
UNDERLYING FACTS:  
WAGES/HYPERINFLATION/SCARCITY/HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: The minimum wage is of Bs 65,201.00 equivalent to about USD 85 (Calculated at the official dollar rate of 785.00 Bs per 1 USD). This is a reality in a country which economy is based on the USD while the workers income is not calculated in the same currency. A regular family needing to buy the basic products to feed a family of 4 requires the amount of Bs 922,625.00 which is equivalent to USD 1,175.00. That means a family needs 13 monthly incomes to cover the basics for a month. This altogether with scarcity, hyperinflation and poverty has taken the population of all classes to the worse social, economic and political crisis Venezuela has seen in its history. The crisis started about ten years ago, but it has been deepening. As of today, after 18 years of regime, Venezuelans are dying from lack of medicine, food or the most basic necessities without mentioning the critical situation of those who are newly born, elderly or seriously ill.  
Youth and children seem to have no future. Elders are losing hope to see a change anytime soon.  
DRUG TRAFICCKING/ GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS CORRUPTION: Efrain Antonio Campos Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, both being nephews of the First Lady (Cilia Flores), are waiting confirmation on a final judgment by the South District Court of the State of New York this coming June 26, 2017. These men conspired last year to import 800 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. before they were arrested in Haiti. "They believed they were so powerful in their country that they could ship nearly a metric ton of cocaine from airport to airport without any problem", Emil Bove, Assistant U.S Attorney said of the nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.  
Impunity, corruption, breach of law and chaos is what better describes the inexistent rule of law in Venezuela. This is supported and sponsored by the regime.  
TERRORISM: It has been proven that the Maduro's regime provides passports for terrorists. On the other hand, the country’s vice-president, Tareck El Aissami, is actually in the OFAC list. Both facts are not coincidental. The journalist work named “Passport in the Shadows” is a year long investigation by CNN and CNN in Spanish exposing alleged passport fraud in Venezuela and Iraq. Additionally, CNN has obtained a confidential intelligence report from Latin American countries that links Tareck El Aissami, to the issuance of passports to individuals from the Middle East as well as people linked to the terrorist group Hezbollah. This is not happening so far away from the U.S. We reiterate, it is just 2,799 miles away.  
CONSTITUTIONAL BREACH OF LAW: On March 2017, the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled on a couple of judgments basically stating the no recognition of the National Assembly, which is the congress elected through 14 million direct and legit vote, a vast qualified majority. This parliament has been completely useless since the great victory two years ago. The Supreme Court, being the puppet of the Government, has constantly hindered the powers and the actions of the Parliament. Its existence is the symbolic reminder of the power the people have but also shows the significant and evident lack of authority. These two Court judgments were annulled by the government when immediately the international community started sending communications to the Venezuelan government questioning the brake of the constitutional rule. These actions rapidly woke up the population’s anger. It was asleep in the Venezuelan society, because the main concern was silently oppressed in their minds being starved to death. The streets of the capital Caracas were taken over by protests since April 1, 2017 asking for the government to follow the constitution. The general chant is “we rather dye in the streets defending our dignity than passively accepting to die in our homes with no future and no food.”  
VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: Pacific protests by unarmed citizens exercising their right for a change have been ongoing since then. By May 28, 2017 there are 61 people hat have died during the protests by numbers not officially provided by the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. There is not official government numbers, most of the crime’s investigations have not even started. By now more than 950 have been wounded and 2,815 have been detained and are waiting to appear in court to be charged.  341 people are being civilians will be presented to military tribunals which is another flagrant violation of Human Rights.  The Criminal International Court is currently reviewing more than 600 hundred cases of torture perpetrated during 15 years of the regi 
me. These numbers summed to the fatalities also occurred in 2014, when 45 people died at that time and since then the government has imprisoned more than 100 people for political reasons. These includes: Leopoldo Lopez, who completed his third of thirteen years condemn in prison on February 18; Caracas’ Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who completed his second year under house arrest as of February 19; former Mayor Daniel Ceballos; and many others as students, activists, journalists, and peaceful protestors. All of them have been deprived of freedom because of thinking differently from the government.  
The reasons for Venezuelans protest have increased due to the fact that innocent people have been brutally killed because of unjustified force. Young college boys have been killed by National Guards and police forces for protesting in the streets of Caracas and several other main cities in the interior of the country. These young deaths moved the hearts of millions and provoked society to fight on. Chants in the streets demands “Freedom for the Political Prisoners” “There is no food or medicine”, “we are Venezuelans and we want freedom and democracy" but the one that everyone sings with the most fury is “President Maduro, STEP DOWN”.  
Venezuela is facing a profound human rights and humanitarian crisis. The Maduro administration enjoys tremendous concentration of power, which it has used to gradually erode human  
rights guarantees and checks on its own power. Opponents including anti-government demonstrators, critics, and opposition politicians have been arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted. Security forces have committed egregious abuses, including torture. The Supreme Court routinely fails to demonstrate any independence, endorsing government abuses and stripping the National Assembly of its powers.  
MADURO’S SELF-INITIATIVE FOR A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY (REFERENDUM): President Maduro announced, as a decision already made unilaterally, decided to celebrate a constituent assembly, which is against the constitution, because that decision must be taken by the people. This initiative is not a novelty. It was already proposed by former president Hugo Chavez 10 years ago and a referendum was held which he lost in such opportunity. Why does Maduro want to come back with the same? The country is instead calling for general elections, a process where each Venezuelan can elect vote by vote a new president, someone recognized as legit and authenticated by the power of the people and its vote under a clear and transparent process. The country does not want a communist system, the country recognizes its economic platform as capitalism, which is contrary to this radical socialist left wing regime.  
Currently the streets in Venezuela look like civil war. We raise our petition to President Trump and the congress of the United States of America to acknowledge this situation taking the respective actions that prevent more blood from innocent people and bringing Venezuela back to the path of the rule of law, democracy and justice for the good of the Venezuelan people, peace in the region and to preserve the energy interests and safety of the United States of America.  
Why the U.S should take actions:  

  • ENERGY-CORRUPTION: On November 30th, 2016, just three weeks after the U.S elections and when Russia had reasons to believe that sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on Russia after invading Crimea could be lifted by the Trump administration, Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft loaned $1.5 billions to Venezuela’s state-owned oil company CITGO. Venezuela put 49% of its stock, up as collateral for the Russian loan. In the U.S., CITGO operates 48 oil terminals, including three refineries, plus several pipelines across the country. (Source: https://youtu.be/htsbh6gsO6g) Sen Bob Menendez said this raises some serious red flags and worries that there is a potential for the company owned by the Russian government to operate an extensive network of refineries and pipelines across the U.S., and toy with gas prices and shut down its pipelines and oil terminals if the U.S. allows Russia to succeed on its quest to take over CITGO if Venezuela defaults which is very likely according to experts on the matter.  According to U.S. investigations and many news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg among others, the Venezuela dictatorial regime through Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the Venezuelan unit that owns CITGO, has been alleged to use PDVSA as a cash machine to fund bribery and high level and significant amounts of corruption like money laundering. This means that actually there is little to no trust in PDVSA/CITGO.  
  • NUCLEAR WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: An Israeli report of 2009 concludes that Bolivia, alongside Venezuela, is supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program. The three-page document about Iranian activities in Latin America was prepared for a visit to South America by  Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon before a conference of the Organization of American States in Honduras. "There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program," the Israeli Foreign Ministry document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It added, "Now we have evidence that also Bolivia supplies uranium to Iran." There was no immediate comment from officials in Venezuela or Bolivia on the report's allegations. (Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/1585/bolivia-venezuela-supply-uranium-to-iran 
  • DRUG TRAFFIKING/MONEY LAUNDERING/ TERRORISM: The term “Cartel of the Suns” (Spanish: Cartel de los Soles) describes a Venezuelan organization allegedly headed by high-ranking members of the Armed Forces of Venezuela who are involved in international drug trade. (The US military uses stars on epilates for high-ranking officers. Many LATAM countries use suns for the same purpose).  According to Héctor Landaeta, journalist and author of “Chavismo, Narco-trafficking and the Military”, the phenomenon began when Colombian drugs began to enter into Venezuela from corrupt border units and that the "rot moved its way up the ranks". Reports that members of the Venezuelan military were involved in drug trafficking began in the 1990s, though it was limited to taking payments and ignoring drug traffickers. It was alleged that officers of Hugo Chávez's Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-2000 that planned the 1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts had created a group that participated in drug trafficking that was known as the "Cartel Bolivariano" or "Bolivarian Cartel". Following the 1992 coup attempts, The Los Angeles Times noted that Venezuelan officers may have sought to take over the government since there was "money to be made from corruption, particularly in drugs". In 1993, the term “Cartel de los Soles” or “Cartel of the Suns” was first used when allegations of two National Guard generals, who wore emblems that looked like suns on their uniforms, were investigated for drug trafficking crimes.  The "Cartel of the Suns" name returned in 2004 by reporter and city council member Mauro Marcano. Shortly before he was murdered, Marcano alleged that Alexis Maneiro, head of the National Guard and the Dirección General de Inteligencia Militar, were involved in drug trafficking. In January 2015, the former security chief of both Hugo Chavez and Diosdado Cabello, Leamsy Salazar, made accusations that Cabello was head of the “Cartel of the Suns”. Salazar was placed in witness protection, fleeing to the United States with assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division after cooperating with the administration and providing possible details on Cabello's involvement with international drug trade. Salazar stated that he saw Cabello give orders on transporting tons of cocaine. The shipments of drugs were reportedly sent from the FARC in Colombia to the United States and Europe, with the possible assistance of Cuba. The alleged international drug operation had possibly involved other senior members of Venezuela's government as well, such as Tareck El Aissami and José David Cabello, Diosdado's brother.  (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartel_of_the_Suns 
  • UNCONTROLLED MIGRATION: Hyperinflation, food shortages, and rampant crime are driving Venezuelans to flee the country, exacerbating the crisis and posing challenges for surrounding countries seeking to accommodate the influx of refugees while securing their own borders against imported instability. Deemed the second-most violent country on earth that is not actively at war, Venezuela is unable to support its own civilians, who are desperately seeking a way out. Venezuelans fled the country throughout the presidency of Hugo Chavez (1999-2013),  but the exodus has escalated under President Nicolas Maduro (2013 until current), and even including “Chavistas” – Venezuelans who supported and admired President Chavez. Many of those going to other latitudes with money under strong suspicious of coming from doubtful sources. As Venezuela’s heavily controlled economy failed to provide basic necessities to its citizens, more than 150,000 Venezuelans fled the country in 2016 – an estimated 60% increase from the previous year. While the initial exodus under Chavez was mostly comprised of wealthy Venezuelans who feared the government’s wealth redistribution policies, many of the current migrants are far in different situation. 2.5 million Venezuelans are estimated to be living abroad, with hundreds more attempting to join them every day. Whereas Venezuela used to be a safe heaven for refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring states, its worsening humanitarian crisis – characterized by rampant crime and severe food shortages – is leading civilians to repudiate the regime and seek refuge anywhere they can. They leave behind a country on the brink of collapse that poses security risks to its own citizens and the surrounding region.  (Source: https://encyclopediageopolitica.com/2017/02/13/the-new-venezuelan-exodus/ 

PETITIONS:  

· SUPPORT AND ENFORCEMENT TO THE SANCTIONS AGAINST VENEZUELAN PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND INDIVIDUALS RELATED TO ILLEGAL ACTIVITY IN VENEZUELA: On March 9, 2015, President Obama announced a new Executive Order (E.O) “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela.” The targeted sanctions in the E.O. implement the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2014, and also go beyond the requirements of this legislation. This new authority is aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela. The E.O. does not target the people or economy of Venezuela.  

For individuals and entities designated for the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the E.O., their property and interests in property are blocked and U.S. persons wherever located are prohibited from engaging in any transactions or dealings with such individuals or entities, including their property and interests in property. The E.O. also suspends the entry into the United States of individuals meeting the criteria for economic sanctions. Except as authorized by the Secretary of State, designated individuals will not be permitted to travel to the United States.  
The E.O. and these targeted sanctions demonstrate the United States’ commitment to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela.  
We request the government to perform thoughtful investigations to those wealthy Venezuelans in the States that own companies, corporations and businesses and if something is unclear or irregular to revoke their current visa status.  
Source: https://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/spi/venezuela/#.WQ6k5utz07g.gmail 

SUPPORT TO ADJUST IMMIGRATION STATUS OF CERTAIN VENEZUELAN NATIONALS WHO ARE IN THE U.S: H. R. 2161 and H. R. 3744 are the bill numbers to adjust the immigration status of certain Venezuelan nationals who are in the United States. (known as “Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act”) filed by Mr. Curbelo of Florida (for himself, Mr. Grayson, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, and Ms. Wasserman Schultz) which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. In the United States, in 2014 Venezuela entered the list of “Leading Nationalities for Asylum Applications filed with USCIS.” In December 2014, the US received 395 applications, in December 2015 it received 958, and in December 2016 it received 2.334. In December 2016, it was the first country in the list. (Source: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3744 

REQUEST TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO REITERATE AND ENFORCE ACTIONS: We ask our country of current citizenship, The United States of America to be of strong influence, to reiterate and enforce consistent actions supporting its dismay and concern about the unfair arrests and other actions taken by the Venezuelan government to criminalize dissent and deny its citizens the benefits of democracy, while violating their human rights. We demand for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience in Venezuela, respect for the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the separation of constitutional powers within the government, and the restoration of a democratic process that reflects the will of the Venezuelan people. These actions shall be translated through regional cooperation by the OAS (Organization of American States) to rapidly agree on the activation of the “Democratic Act” (Carta Democrática) calling for general elections, open of a humanitarian channel, revoke visas to Venezuelans who have assets and business founded with money stolen from the Venezuelan Public Treasury and protecting the Venezuelans that are arriving to the United States asking for political asylum.  

Respectfully yours,  

Signees:  

FirstName   LastName        Email Address  

Clementina Hiteshew/         hitebay@hotmail.com  
Zullin Buitrago/                   Zbuitrago@mindspring.com  
Maria Mercedes Gutierrez / mariamercedesgutierrez@hotmail.com  
Ruben Navarro /                   ruben@rrentergroup.com  
Tomas Lefkovits/                 tlefkovits@lefkogroup.com   
Leny Covarrubias /               Lenymontaner7@gmail.com  
Gloria Herdee /                    gloriaherdee@gmail.com   
Dora Villamizar/                  doraelisa@yahoo.com  
Soroama Figueredo/             fsoroama@yahoo.com 
Pastorita Alvillar/                 pastoritalvillar@gmail.com



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