[113th Congress Public Law 278]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

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Public Law 113-278
113th Congress

                                 An Act

 To impose targeted sanctions on persons responsible for violations of 
 human rights of antigovernment protesters in Venezuela, to strengthen 
  civil society in Venezuela, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: Dec. 18, 
                          2014 -  [S. 2142]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Venezuela 
Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. 50 USC 1701 

    This Act may be cited as the ``Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and 
Civil Society Act of 2014''.

    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) The Central Bank of Venezuela and the National 
        Statistical Institute of Venezuela stated that the annual 
        inflation rate in Venezuela in 2013 was 56.30, the highest level 
        of inflation in the Western Hemisphere and the third highest 
        level of inflation in the world behind South Sudan and Syria.
            (2) The Central Bank of Venezuela and the Government of 
        Venezuela have imposed a series of currency controls that has 
        exacerbated economic problems and, according to the World 
        Economic Forum, has become the most problematic factor for doing 
        business in Venezuela.
            (3) The Central Bank of Venezuela declared that the scarcity 
        index of Venezuela reached 29.4 percent in March 2014, which 
        signifies that fewer than one in 4 basic goods is unavailable at 
        any given time. The Central Bank has not released any 
        information on the scarcity index since that time.
            (4) Since 1999, violent crime in Venezuela has risen sharply 
        and the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, an independent 
        nongovernmental organization, found the national per capita 
        murder rate to be 79 per 100,000 people in 2013.
            (5) The international nongovernmental organization Human 
        Rights Watch recently stated, ``Under the leadership of 
        President Chaavez and now President Maduro, the accumulation of 
        power in the executive branch and the erosion of human rights 
        guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, 
        and prosecute its critics.''.
            (6) The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 
        of the Department of State maintained that in Venezuela ``the 
        government did not respect judicial independence or permit 
        judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation'' 
        and ``the government used the judiciary to intimidate and 
        selectively prosecute political, union, business, and civil 
        society leaders who were critical of government policies or 

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            (7) The Government of Venezuela has detained foreign 
        journalists and threatened and expelled international media 
        outlets operating in Venezuela, and the international 
        nongovernmental organization Freedom House declared that 
        Venezuela's ``media climate is permeated by intimidation, 
        sometimes including physical attacks, and strong antimedia 
        rhetoric by the government is common''.
            (8) Since February 4, 2014, the Government of Venezuela has 
        responded to antigovernment protests with violence and killings 
        perpetrated by its public security forces.
            (9) In May 2014, Human Rights Watch found that the unlawful 
        use of force perpetrated against antigovernment protesters was 
        ``part of a systematic practice by the Venezuelan security 
            (10) As of September 1, 2014, 41 people had been killed, 
        approximately 3,000 had been arrested unjustly, and more than 
        150 remained in prison and faced criminal charges as a result of 
        antigovernment demonstrations throughout Venezuela.
            (11) Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was arrested on 
        February 18, 2014, in relation to the protests and was unjustly 
        charged with criminal incitement, conspiracy, arson, and 
        property damage. Since his arrest, Lopez has been held in 
        solitary confinement and has been denied 58 out of 60 of his 
        proposed witnesses at his ongoing trial.
            (12) As of September 1, 2014, not a single member of the 
        public security forces of the Government of Venezuela had been 
        held accountable for acts of violence perpetrated against 
        antigovernment protesters.
                    VIOLENCE IN VENEZUELA.

    It is the sense of Congress that--
            (1) the United States aspires to a mutually beneficial 
        relationship with Venezuela based on respect for human rights 
        and the rule of law and a functional and productive relationship 
        on issues of public security, including counternarcotics and 
            (2) the United States supports the people of Venezuela in 
        their efforts to realize their full economic potential and to 
        advance representative democracy, human rights, and the rule of 
        law within their country;
            (3) the chronic mismanagement by the Government of Venezuela 
        of its economy has produced conditions of economic hardship and 
        scarcity of basic goods and foodstuffs for the people of 
            (4) the failure of the Government of Venezuela to guarantee 
        minimal standards of public security for its citizens has led 
        the country to become one of the most violent and corrupt in the 
            (5) the Government of Venezuela continues to take steps to 
        remove checks and balances on the executive, politicize the 
        judiciary, undermine the independence of the legislature through 
        use of executive decree powers, persecute and prosecute its 
        political opponents, curtail freedom of the press, and limit the 
        free expression of its citizens;

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            (6) Venezuelans, responding to ongoing economic hardship, 
        high levels of crime and violence, and the lack of basic 
        political rights and individual freedoms, have turned out in 
        demonstrations in Caracas and throughout the country to protest 
        the failure of the Government of Venezuela to protect the 
        political and economic well-being of its citizens; and
            (7) the repeated use of violence perpetrated by the National 
        Guard and security personnel of Venezuela, as well as persons 
        acting on behalf of the Government of Venezuela, against 
        antigovernment protesters that began on February 4, 2014, is 
        intolerable and the use of unprovoked violence by protesters is 
        also a matter of serious concern.

    It is the policy of the United States--
            (1) to support the people of Venezuela in their aspiration 
        to live under conditions of peace and representative democracy 
        as defined by the Inter-American Democratic Charter of the 
        Organization of American States;
            (2) to work in concert with the other member states within 
        the Organization of American States, as well as the countries of 
        the European Union, to ensure the peaceful resolution of the 
        current situation in Venezuela and the immediate cessation of 
        violence against antigovernment protestors;
            (3) to hold accountable government and security officials in 
        Venezuela responsible for or complicit in the use of force in 
        relation to antigovernment protests and similar future acts of 
        violence; and
            (4) to continue to support the development of democratic 
        political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela.
SEC. 5. <<NOTE: President. Determination.>> SANCTIONS ON PERSONS 

    (a) In General.--The President shall impose the sanctions described 
in subsection (b) with respect to any foreign person, including any 
current or former official of the Government of Venezuela or any person 
acting on behalf of that Government, that the President determines--
            (1) has perpetrated, or is responsible for ordering or 
        otherwise directing, significant acts of violence or serious 
        human rights abuses in Venezuela against persons associated with 
        the antigovernment protests in Venezuela that began on February 
        4, 2014;
            (2) has ordered or otherwise directed the arrest or 
        prosecution of a person in Venezuela primarily because of the 
        person's legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or 
        assembly; or
            (3) has knowingly materially assisted, sponsored, or 
        provided significant financial, material, or technological 
        support for, or goods or services in support of, the commission 
        of acts described in paragraph (1) or (2).

    (b) Sanctions Described.--
            (1) In general.--The sanctions described in this subsection 
        are the following:
                    (A) Asset blocking.--The exercise of all powers 
                granted to the President by the International Emergency 
                Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) to the 
                extent necessary to block and prohibit all transactions 
                in all property and interests in property of a person 
                determined by

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                the President to be subject to subsection (a) if such 
                property and interests in property are in the United 
                States, come within the United States, or are or come 
                within the possession or control of a United States 
                    (B) Exclusion from the united states and revocation 
                of visa or other documentation.--In the case of an alien 
                determined by the President to be subject to subsection 
                (a), denial of a visa to, and exclusion from the United 
                States of, the alien, and revocation in accordance with 
                section 221(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
                U.S.C. 1201(i)), of any visa or other documentation of 
                the alien.
            (2) Penalties.--A person that violates, attempts to violate, 
        conspires to violate, or causes a violation of paragraph (1)(A) 
        or any regulation, license, or order issued to carry out 
        paragraph (1)(A) shall be subject to the penalties set forth in 
        subsections (b) and (c) of section 206 of the International 
        Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1705) to the same 
        extent as a person that commits an unlawful act described in 
        subsection (a) of that section.
            (3) Exception relating to importation of goods.--The 
        requirement to block and prohibit all transactions in all 
        property and interests in property under paragraph (1)(A) shall 
        not include the authority to impose sanctions on the importation 
        of goods.
            (4) Exception to comply with united nations headquarters 
        agreement.--Sanctions under paragraph (1)(B) shall not apply to 
        an alien if admitting the alien into the United States is 
        necessary to permit the United States to comply with the 
        Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, 
        signed at Lake Success June 26, 1947, and entered into force 
        November 21, 1947, between the United Nations and the United 
        States, or other applicable international obligations.

    (c) Waiver.--The President may waive the application of sanctions 
under subsection (b) with respect to a person if the President--
            (1) determines that such a waiver is in the national 
        interest of the United States; and
            (2) <<NOTE: Deadline. Notification.>> on or before the date 
        on which the waiver takes effect, submits to the Committee on 
        Foreign Relations and the Committee on Banking Housing, and 
        Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs 
        and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of 
        Representatives a notice of and justification for the waiver.

    (d) Regulatory Authority.--The President shall issue such 
regulations, licenses, and orders as are necessary to carry out this 
    (e) Termination.--The requirement to impose sanctions under this 
section shall terminate on December 31, 2016.
    (f) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) Admitted; alien.--The terms ``admitted'' and ``alien'' 
        have the meanings given those terms in section 101 of the 
        Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101).
            (2) Financial institution.--The term ``financial 
        institution'' has the meaning given that term in section 5312 of 
        title 31, United States Code.

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            (3) Foreign person.--The term ``foreign person'' means a 
        person that is not a United States person.
            (4) Good.--The term ``good'' has the meaning given that term 
        in section 16 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 
        U.S.C. App. 2415) (as continued in effect pursuant to the 
        International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et 
            (5) Knowingly.--The term ``knowingly'', with respect to 
        conduct, a circumstance, or a result, means that a person has 
        actual knowledge, or should have known, of the conduct, the 
        circumstance, or the result.
            (6) Materially assisted.--The term ``materially assisted'' 
        means the provision of assistance that is significant and of a 
        kind directly relevant to acts described in paragraph (1) or (2) 
        of subsection (a).
            (7) United states person.--The term ``United States person'' 
                    (A) a United States citizen or an alien lawfully 
                admitted for permanent residence to the United States; 
                    (B) an entity organized under the laws of the United 
                States or of any jurisdiction within the United States, 
                including a foreign branch of such an entity.
SEC. 6. <<NOTE: Assessment. Recommenda- tions.>> REPORT ON 

    (a) In General.--Not later than 30 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of 
Governors (in this section referred to as the ``Board'') shall submit to 
Congress a report that includes--
            (1) <<NOTE: Evaluation.>> a thorough evaluation of the 
        governmental, political, and technological obstacles faced by 
        the people of Venezuela in their efforts to obtain accurate, 
        objective, and comprehensive news and information about domestic 
        and international affairs;
            (2) an assessment of current efforts relating to 
        broadcasting, information distribution, and circumvention 
        technology distribution in Venezuela, by the United States 
        Government and otherwise; and
            (3) a strategy for expanding such efforts in Venezuela, 
        including recommendations for additional measures to expand upon 
        current efforts.

    (b) Elements.--The report required by subsection (a) shall include--
            (1) an assessment of the current level of Federal funding 
        dedicated to broadcasting, information distribution, and 
        circumvention technology distribution in Venezuela by the Board 
        before the date of the enactment of this Act;
            (2) an assessment of the extent to which the current level 
        and type of news and related programming and content provided by 
        the Voice of America and other sources is addressing the 
        informational needs of the people of Venezuela; and

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            (3) recommendations for increasing broadcasting, information 
        distribution, and circumvention technology distribution in 

    Approved December 18, 2014.


SENATE REPORTS: No. 113-175 (Comm. on Foreign Relations).
            Dec. 8, considered and passed Senate.
            Dec. 10, considered and passed House.