BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing increased pressure to stop blocking a bill that would impose sanctions against human-rights abusers in Venezuela's government.
Landrieu's main Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy, co-wrote an opinion piece Tuesday with Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio that criticizes Landrieu as siding with Venezuelan leaders who have jailed and killed protesters.
"Venezuelan regime officials have been oppressing innocent Venezuelans, pillaging that country's wealth, traveling to the U.S. to splurge, and then return to Venezuela to carry on with their repression. At the very least, it should be U.S. policy to not allow these practices to continue," the lawmakers wrote in a column for The Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette.
Meanwhile, the Independent Venezuelan American Citizens group held rallies at federal buildings in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to criticize Landrieu's position and to urge her to support the sanction legislation.
A Democrat seeking her fourth term, Landrieu said she supports sanctions against the Venezuelan government. But she said Rubio's bill is written too broadly and could threaten jobs at a major Citgo refinery in Louisiana, which imports oil from Venezuela.
"I am very concerned that Senator Rubio's bill would endanger 2,000 full time and contract workers at the Citgo oil refinery in Lake Charles. Once a simple sentence that protects these hard working Louisianians is added to the bill, I will be happy to support the legislation," Landrieu said in a statement.
Republicans hope the criticism strikes another blow against Landrieu, who is targeted by the GOP in their effort to gain six Senate seats this fall and retake control of the chamber.
Rubio and Cassidy said Landrieu has been assured the legislation wouldn't harm Citgo's operations in Louisiana, and they accused her of working with the "Venezuelan regime" to impede sanctions.
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