Durbin Blasts Maduro For Expelling U.S. Diplomats From Venezuela

U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today blasted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for expelling America’s two highest ranking diplomats in the country, Todd Robinson and Brian Naranjo, on nonsense charges designed to distract from his own government’s corruption. Maduro staged an election over the weekend that banned key candidates and parties and has been internationally discredited as a sham. Last month, Durbin traveled to Caracas to warn Maduro that the snap election called by his ruling party under such undemocratic conditions would be considered illegitimate.

Instead, they went ahead with Sunday’s widely discredited election in which his regime jailed or disqualified any meaningful opponent,” said Durbin. “It was a farce. It will only result in further isolation and suffering of the Venezuelan people. Despite stirring video pleas from the prison in which Josh Holt, the American, is being held, Maduro’s regime wouldn’t even meet with our top diplomat in Caracas, Todd Robinson. The Trump Administration has been unequivocal in claiming the Venezuelan election was a sham, and placing new economic sanctions to put pressure on the leaders of the Venezuelan government to change. As I told President Maduro and members of his government, both parties in America may have our squabbles and differences, but when it comes to Venezuela, we stand together.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Todd Robinson is one of our nation’s most highly respected diplomats—he carries the rank of Ambassador and has served in some of the most challenging countries around the world with distinction,” Durbin continued. “I spoke to him on the phone yesterday. He’s disappointed. He knows there’s much work to be done in Venezuela to protect innocent people and to make sure that America has a strong presence there as well. And now he’s being expelled. I thanked him for his service in Venezuela and his team that continues to soldier on under some of the most difficult circumstances in the world. Until the Maduro regime stops dismantling his country’s democracy and begins to address the humanitarian crisis which exists in their country, I will continue to support U.S. and regional measures to put pressure on the Maduro regime to change. “

In February, Durbin led a group of ten senators in introducing a resolution condemning repressive and undemocratic actions taken by the Venezuelan government, and calling for free and fair elections for its people.

In 2017, Durbin introduced the Venezuela Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Democratic Governance Act which directs the State Department to work through nongovernmental organizations to provide public health commodities, basic food commodities, and related technical assistance to Venezuela.