House of Representatives approves extension of Venezuela sanctions law

The House of Representatives approves a three-year extension of the Venezuela Defense of Humans Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. The legislation – sponsored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) – was passed by the Senate back in April. It authorizes sanctions against government officials and others violating human rights, suppressing political opposition and committing violence against peaceful protesters. 

Nonetheless, in a message congratulating the United States on its Independence Day, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry surprisingly expresses “willingness to establish respectful bilateral diplomatic relations.” The statement says that future diplomatic relations should be guided by international law and "principles such as sovereign equality of states and the people's right to self-determination.” A New York Times editorial says that the “desire to improve relations with the United States” indicates that Maduro “is clearly concerned about his government’s growing pariah status.”