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Miami Congressional Caucus Urges Tougher U.S. Response In Venezuelan Dissident Death

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C.M. Guerrero
/
El Nuevo Herald
Miami Congressman Carlos Curbelo and Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Tuesday calling for a tougher U.S. response against the Venezuelan regime for its alleged role in the death of Venezuelan dissident Fernando Alban this month.

Much of the world is focused this week on the alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – allegedly by Saudi henchmen. But a similar case is brewing closer to home – involving the possible murder of a Venezuelan dissident by the regime in Caracas.

Fernando Albán was a Venezuelan opposition leader. When he returned from a trip to New York on October 5, Venezuelan authorities detained him. Three days later they announced Albán was dead – and they claimed he’d committed suicide while in custody by jumping from a 10th-floor window.

But Venezuela’s political opposition disputes that, insisting Albán was instead killed by agents of authoritarian socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

At his offices in Miami, Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo on Tuesday said the U.S. should pay as much attention to Albán’s case as it has to Khashoggi’s.

“We should not tolerate this – [not anywhere] in the world, but especially [not] in our hemisphere, in our neighborhood, in the Americas, where we uphold higher standards of human rights, of democracy, of respect for human dignity,” Curbelo told reporters.

Curbelo, joined by GOP Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, called for a full State Department investigation of Albán’s death. He said economic sanctions against the Maduro regime should be strengthened – and that all other retaliation options should remain on the table, including “surgical” military strikes.

“We believe that the consequences against Maduro, for what he continues to do, should be stronger each time," said Curbelo, who is facing a tight re-election battle next month in his 26th District against Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

The Trump Administration has blamed the Maduro regime for Albán’s death, and the U.N. says it will also investigate the case. International human rights groups accuse Venezuela's security forces of killing hundreds of anti-government protesters in recent years.