U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), senior member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee released the following statement after the State and Treasury Departments announced the United States will impose sanctions on thirteen current or former Venezuelan government officials responsible for human rights abuses. Today’s announcement comes after Senator Menendez sent a letter along with Senator Rubio recommending the administration take action against several of the individuals sanctioned today..

“The expansion of targeted sanctions against Maduro cronies with Venezuelans’ blood on their hands is not only appropriate, it was necessary. The implosion of Venezuela has already claimed the lives of hundreds and left millions hungry and desperate, and yet, not one single Venezuelan government official or member of the security forces has been held accountable for their role in beating, shooting, jailing or killing of Venezuela’s citizens and democracy.

“With a fraudulent vote scheduled for July 30th, Maduro has brazenly doubled-down on his ruthlessness by responding to the latest wave of protests across Venezuela with a brutal and deplorable display of force on innocent civilians. So while the collapse of the Maduro regime is inevitable as a result of their dumbfounding ineptitude, now is not the time to turn our backs on the millions of victims of their tyranny.

“I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner with the administration and my colleagues in Congress so the United States continues to show leadership and solidarity with respect to the situation in Venezuela. But the undoing of democracy and the boiling crisis in Venezuela cannot be stopped by the United States alone, and more forceful action is clearly needed. We must call on countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to take similar or collective action in light of this devastating economic, social, and democratic collapse in our backyard. The world is watching and our hemisphere must not stand idly by as Venezuela burns and millions clamor for help.