The US Senate has passed the so-called Bolivar Act whereby no business may be conducted with the Venezuelan regime of President Nicolás Maduro.
The bill, which had already been greenlighted by the House of Representatives, bans federal agencies from doing business with anyone who supports Maduro's administration. The initiative had been unanimously approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in March 2021.
We all know what Nicolás Maduro is doing in Venezuela. He is starving his own citizens. He is imprisoning his political enemies. He is providing a foothold for Russia, Iran, Communist China, and Hezbollah and he is actively destabilizing our hemisphere. There is no reason why the U.S. government should work with companies that also work with such a repugnant dictator, said Senator Rick Scott.
The prohibition would only apply to contracts entered into as of the bill's enactment and would not affect any business with the legitimately elected government of the National Assembly and its elected successors, it was explained.
The legislation also provides for necessary exceptions, including humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and when the Office of Foreign Assets Control issues a valid license to do business in Venezuela. It also allows the Secretary of State to remove the restriction when it is in the U.S. national interest.
In Caracas, the Maduro administration issued a statement saying the Bolivar Act aims to dynamite any path to understanding and dialogue between the two nations and dubbed it an unfortunate bill that, both in its name and in its content, which constitutes a violation of economic freedoms and a serious offense to the Venezuelan people.
This instrument, contrary to international law and conceived from the extremist sectors of US politics, violates the integrity of the sovereign people of Venezuela, as well as that of US companies themselves, Caracas argued.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Carlos Faria said the US authorities were placing companies at risk of being arbitrarily, unjustly and illegally penalized for exercising their right to free trade through contracts with the Bolivarian Government through a measure that shows the fury of ultra-conservative and coup-mongering sectors in the U.S. policy, which are relentless in their attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan Government and to dynamite any possible route to dialogue and constructive relations between both countries.
The Maduro government also criticized the name given to the measure, which is disrespectful of Simón Bolívar's commitment to the principles of freedom and peace are far above those of a handful of legislators ignorant of his glory.
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