After all the talk and accusations by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, the United States have finally taken action. Today, the nation has declared Venezuela a national security threat and ordered more sanctions for officials. This time against seven of them. This is the the worst diplomatic dispute between the two since Maduro took power in 2013.
Obama signed and issued the order, who said the sanctions are not meant to hurt the Venezuelan economy or energy sector. The move increases the already high tensions between Washington and Caracas. This comes at a time where U.S is fixing relations with Venezuela’s longtime ally, Cuba.
Maduro denounced the sanctions and said this is just another attempt to hurt his government. At the end of his two hour speech, he said he would seek decree powers to counter to what is known by them as the ”imperialist threat”. He also appointed one of the sanctioned officials as the new interior minister.
This isn’t the first country the U.S does this too, the list of national security threats includes Iran and Syria.
The sanctions come after what the U.S considers an abuse of human rights in the country. This also includes acts of violence in past protests of the opposition and the prohibition or penalization of freedom of expression.
“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.
“We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents,” he added.
Maduro says Obama has made a ”colossal mistake and has an ”imperialist arrogance” like past presidents Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.
In response to the sanctions and declaration of national security threat, Maduro said he will ask the National Assembly, which his party controls, for more decree powers. This isn’t the first time he asks for this and some critics are seeing this as another power grab. The Venezuelan president also paraded the seven sanctioned officials and hailed them as heroes. He even named one of the sanctioned officials as new interior minister. Washington has accused this official of complicity in violence against pacific protesters.
Among the seven sanctioned officials are three military officers and a state prosecutor. The individuals will have their properties seized and bank accounts blocked or frozen. This also prohibits any U.S citizen from doing business with them.
The sanctions are not meant to hurt its population and economy, said U.S officials. They also called on Venezuela to release all the political prisoners.
The two countries are top trading partners. Venezuela remains the fourth largest supplier of oil to the United States. Will these orders and sanctions affect their commercial ties?