The Venezuelan government was fiercely condemned Tuesday during a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Chaired by one of Washington's most outspoken Venezuela critics, Senator Marco Rubio, participants in the hearing largely applauded the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, while Rubio openly called for more unilateral action against the South American nation.
However, witnesses and subcommittee members alike lamented that no Latin American government has expressed support for the sanctions, which have been widely condemned across the region as an attack on Venezuelan sovereignty, including by Venezuela’s own opposition movement.
Passed by President Barack Obama earlier this month, the sanctions imposed travel and financial restrictions on a handful of high level Venezuelan government officials.
Regional bodies including UNASUR, CELAC and ALBA have all condemned the sanctions, and expressed solidarity with the Venezuelan government.
During Tuesday's hearing, one witness, Columbia University's Dr. Christopher Sabatini, conceded that the language of the executive order that ushered in the latest sanctions was “problematic,” referring to Obama's claim that Venezuela poses an “extraordinary threat” to the United States.
He continued by admitting the White House's claim that Venezuela poses a threat to United States was “a little overblown.”
Witness Alex Lee from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs defended the sanctions, arguing they were an “exercise of U.S. sovereignty,” rather than an attack on Venezuela.
However, he claimed Obama will continue to prioritize trying to rally opposition to the Venezuelan government in the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April.
In recent regional summits, the United States has become increasingly isolated over its hostile stance towards Venezuela.
Witnesses at the hearing claimed Venezuela is a “nuclear threat” to the United States, and that the country carryiesout acts of torture similar to those in Guantanamo Bay. Venezuela is not a nuclear armed nation, and has stridently opposed human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay.
Much of the over two hour hearing included largely discredited claims such as allegations that the Venezuelan government secretly executes thousands of its own civilians, and is part of a global conspiracy to replace the U.S. government with an Islamic state.
Stay tuned for a full fact check by teleSUR English.