Venezuela: US imposes sanctions on officials

On Dec. 18 President Barack Obama signed a bill into law to impose sanctions on Venezuela officials that the US government decides were involved in repressing demonstrators during right-wing protests last spring. The measure, which Congress passed the week before, would deny visas to the officials and freeze any assets they hold in the US. Diplomats in Venezuela said dozens of officials could be affected, although the US is not expected to publish their names. A total of 43 people were reportedly killed in the three months of demonstrations, including government supporters, government opponents and security agents.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro noted that Obama signed the bill just one day after announcing plans to normalize relations with Cuba following a half-century of sanctions. "These are the contradictions of an empire that seeks to impose its domination by whatever means, underestimating the power and conscience of our fatherland," Maduro wrote in his Twitter account on Dec. 18. In a New York Times op-ed National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello Rondón noted the "unfortunate coincidence" that Congress passed the sanctions bill "just as scores of people demonstrating against police brutality were being arrested on the streets of New York and other cities" and "a Senate report revealed the extent of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency." (NYT, Dec. 19; Reuters, Dec. 19)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 21.