A Venezuela sanctions bill that will be debated on the House floor on Wednesday would apply more pressure on the Obama administration to take action in the crisis that will soon enter its fourth month, observers say.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) and a bipartisan group of 21 House members, directs President Barack Obama to impose U.S. visa and asset bans against government officials and affiliated individuals who have abused Venezuelan citizens or censored media coverage of protests. It is expected to pass the House and proceed to the Senate, where a similar bill recently passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Student-led protests began in the country in February and have since resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people, which the demonstrators attribute to a crackdown by state security forces and armed pro-government gangs. Members of the opposition say they are fed up with President Nicolas Maduro's inability to tackle soaring inflation, higher crime rates, and shortages of basic goods.