New Legislation Strains Diplomacy With Latin America

Mallet, legal code and scales of justice

After the passage of recent legislation, ties between the United States and Latin America have become strained, at best.

The U.S. Senate recently passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act. Though it’s written in the difficult rhetoric of legal English — the style of language legal professionals use — it’s pretty clear what the hard right wing of the Upper House planned to do with it. The new bill, if made into law, will place sanctions on Venezuelan officials “planning, facilitating, or perpetrating gross human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and other members of civil society in Venezuela.”

Many political officials, including the White House, did not support similar measures previously, arguing that it could potentially jeopardize discussions between the government and the opposition. However, the White House is now officially backing this new bill, a shift that may have been brought on by the turning of the tides in the mid-term elections.

As the Venezuelanalysis reports, the new legislation was met with strong opposition from several Venezuelan officials, including the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who reportedly said in a pre-recorded, televised interview that he considered severing all ties with the United States, but decided against it because of his “Chavista wisdom.” While the interview aired, though, Maduro spoke to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Cuba, and confirmed that he was condemning any and all U.S. policies aimed against him.

“What is the U.S. Congress thinking, the congressmen and senators? That we Venezuelans – in the face of their resolution threatening Venezuela – are going to get down on our knees and that I’m going to go running to the U.S. Embassy here to apologize?” President Maduro asked rhetorically. “They don’t know our psychology, they don’t know the love we carry inside. It’s an insult that creates indignation for the U.S. Congress and now the White House to go out and applaud sanctions against Venezuela.”

Now, all 11 of the ALBA heads of state have condemned the new legislation, proving President Maduro correct when he warned that “the United States is going down a street with no exit … [because] when you mess with Venezuela you’re messing with all of Latin America.”