WASHINGTON — Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:
“With yesterday’s sham constituent assembly election, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro took one of the final steps in making his country a full-blown dictatorship. Reporting shows that the majority of Venezuelans steered clear of polling stations and chose not to participate in this effort to distract from the country’s real problem: the shriveling of democracy and a humanitarian crisis created by President Maduro and his predecessor in what could be the wealthiest country in South America. I commend the Venezuelan people for their commitment to a better future, even at a time when it seems that all hope is gone.
“While it is hard to find a silver lining at such a dark time, I am heartened by the strong resolve of our friends in Latin America and throughout the world along with the Organization of American States Secretary General who rejected yesterday’s election and the creation of a constituent assembly. The United States and our partners must continue to push for action in multilateral fora to address the crisis in Venezuela. In particular, we must increase efforts at the United Nations to address both the political and the Venezuelan people’s lack of access to food and medicine.
“Most importantly, violence against innocent civilians must end immediately. The eyes of the world are on the Venezuelan government and will continue to be in the days and months ahead.”