Durbin Details Mission To Venezuela In Senate Floor Speech

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke about his recent travel to Venezuela, where he met with President Nicolas Maduro, members of the opposition, the President of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Health and Nutrition, business leaders, civil society groups, doctors, and humanitarian organizations.   

What I found was in fact a country on the edge of a precipice, facing overlapping economic, humanitarian, and political crises,” said Durbin. “Let me be clear in my concluding message to the Venezuelan Government: specifically to only proceed with an election that meets the following basic standards: all political prisoners must be released and all candidates and parties must be allowed to openly compete; there must be at least six months for legitimate campaigning; the National Election Council must be led by credible professional members who can carry out a legitimate election process; there must be no linking of food with voting or political party affiliation; the National Assembly must have its powers restored; and credible international and local election monitors must be allowed to observe the pre-election and actual election processes, with full accreditation and access. Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days in Washington, but they do agree on Venezuela and the consequences of President Maduro continuing down the current path.”

Durbin also spoke of meeting with Josh Holt, a U.S. citizen being held by the Maduro regime on trumped up charges, “I visited him in a prison known by its prisoners as ‘Hell on Earth.’ He and his Venezuelan wife have served 21 months with no end in sight. He is suffering and clearly a political hostage of the regime. I appealed to President Maduro to release him. I am one of a bipartisan group of members of congress who will continue to push for his immediate release.”  

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

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

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.