Where’s Joe Courtney?


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The Biden Administration announced 472,000 individual temporary protected status visas for Venezuelan refugees on September 20. This should allow the recipients to work while they wait for their asylum applications to be processed. This is only for openers. How did we get to issuing almost half a million temporary visas to Venezuelan refugees? Thank you Joe Courtney, U.S. Representative for the Second District of Connecticut. Where has he been while Venezuela sank below the authoritarian sea of Cuban interior police political persecution and compliance with the socialist mismanagement of Venezuela’s economy under Hugo Chavez and now under current strongman Nicolas Maduro?

As a resident on the other side of Connecticut, I expect all U.S. Representatives to vigorously represent the interests of the United States here and abroad. I also expect our federal representatives to look out for the interests of our fellow brothers and sisters in the Americas and not to turn a blind eye to their subjugation to bad actors . Unfortunately, our Venezuelan brothers and sisters have gone from one of the wealthiest countries in South America with the largest proven oil reserves in the world before Rep. Courtney won election in 2006, to a semi-dictatorship with eighty percent of the population now mal-nourished and having no access to basic health care. 

Rep. Courtney has done nothing to arrest Venezuela’s fall into poverty and political persecution.

Much has been said of our solidarity with Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion in February, 2022. Rep. Courtney has spoken against the Russian war of aggression against the Ukraine. Over six million Ukrainians have fled since Russia’s invasion. According to The Wall Street Journal more than 7.3 million Venezuelans have fled the political oppression and abject poverty inflicted on Venezuela. But where has Rep. Courtney been? Mayor Adams of New York City has been sounding the alarm almost daily as New York City is struggling under the pressure of all the illegal aliens arriving and staying in the city. It was Mayor Adam’s and New York governor Hochul’s pleading with the Biden Administration that got this first round of 472,000 visas for Venezuelans.

This tragedy in Venezuela with more refugees than have fled the Ukraine has occurred without a peep from Rep. Courtney. Rep. Courtney could have spoken up for our fellow American brothers and sisters in Venezuela. But he chose to do nothing. Perhaps Rep. Courtney can explain why he was silent on Venezuela and its humanitarian crisis for his 17 years in Congress representing the Second Congressional District? 

When the Biden administration went with cup in hand last year to Caracas, Venezuela, to talk about oil production after Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, they went to the wrong capital. They should have to go to Havana,, Cuba, which had subjugated a larger and more prosperous nation, Venezuela, to Cuban control without objection by Rep. Courtney. Before the Biden Administration, the U.S. was energy independent. Why didn’t Rep. Courtney say anything when the Biden Administration crimped America’s energy industry after arriving in Washington, D.C., which left the United States exposed to oil blackmail by Russia?

Since Rep. Courtney was elected to Congress in 2006, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez,  in 2007, seized and nationalized Venezuela’s telecom and electricity industries as well as the Central Bank. Chavez even proposed a constitutional reform to end term limits on himself and to hold people in detention without charges. In 2008, Human Rights Watch warned of the systematic intimidation of the media, labor unions and civil society. That didn’t seem to ruffle Rep. Courtney’s feathers?

In 2009, drug trafficking increased and Venezuela signed a deal with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to purchase 92 tanks. Where was Rep. Courtney? Many Venezuelans have been reduced today to begging for a bag of rice and beans from the government just to live another day. That is exactly where their government wants them: too hungry and weak to put up any resistance to the well-fed military and the Cuban interior police.

There is a game in the United States called “Where’s Waldo?” In that game a young man in a red and white striped shirt is hidden somewhere in a picture and you have to find him. It’s not easy but it is a fun challenge to look. Unfortunately, our own “Where’s Joe Courtney,” on the other hand is not fun as he had been elected to represent the interests of the second district as well as of our entire country. The Second District needs to change to someone who will be present, recognizable and willing to represent the interests of liberal democracy, here and across the Americas! Promoting the important work of Electric Boat and the like are work that any elected representative for the Second District would do. That is not news.

Where has US Rep. Joe Courtney been as Venezuela slid into abject poverty and authoritarian rule? 

Peter Thalheim, Maj. Ret. USAR, JAG Corps