By Rebecca Shabad - 02/28/14 11:13 AM EST
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is urging President Obama to impose sanctions against the government of Venezuela.
Students and other Venezuelans have been protesting President Nicolas Maduro, who has ordered the military to aggressively tamp down on the demonstrations.
“With ongoing reports of violence and repression of free speech, this issue demands your immediate attention. That’s why I am again respectfully requesting that we stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela who are struggling for democracy with swift U.S. action. We must target regime officials with sanctions, such as freezing the bank accounts of Maduro and his gang and revoking the U.S. visas of anyone involved in attacking peaceful demonstrators,” the letter states.
On Tuesday, the U.S. government expelled three Venezuelan diplomats in retaliation for a similar move from Maduro, who kicked American consular officials out of the country.
Scott says he had urged Obama to intervene during White House events earlier this week with the National Governors Association.
“Among the important topics raised during this meeting, I urged you to consider sanctions against the current oppressive Venezuelan regime. Despite our discussion, it’s been four days since we met, and the people of Venezuela are still experiencing unrest and repression,” Scott writes.
More than a dozen people have died during the crackdown on protestors, and more than 100 people have been injured, reports have said.
Scott is also asking Obama to visit the large Venezuelan community in Doral, Fla., during his trip to the state in March.
Meanwhile, the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on Friday cleared a bipartisan resolution that condemns the violence in Venezuela and calls on the U.S. to back pro-democracy protestors.
Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) introduced the resolution with 15 other House members.
Scott’s request comes just a week after the Obama administration threatened to use sanctions against Ukraine’s government for its crackdown on protestors there. President Viktor Yanukovych has since been ousted, and opposition leaders have begun forming a new government.