Latin America

US imposes more visa restrictions on Venezuelan officials

Travel ban is expanded to include authorities accused of public corruption

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.EFE

The United States on Monday slapped a new round of visa restrictions against Venezuelan officials suspected of violating human rights and involvement in public corruption.

The sanctions are aimed at members of President Nicolás Maduro’s government, past officials, and their family members. Citing federal confidentiality laws, Washington did not make the list of names public.

“Ignoring repeated calls for change by governments, respected leaders, and groups of experts, the Venezuelan government has continued to demonstrate a lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, attempting to stifle dissent by prosecuting political activists and cracking down on peaceful protests, which were triggered by deteriorating security, economic, social, and political conditions,” said the State Department in a news release on Monday.

Last July Washington issued a travel ban on Maduro government officials after it accused them of committing abuses during crackdowns on anti-government protests in early 2014.

Those who profit from public corruption and their families are not welcome in the United States” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki

But this latest round also includes a list of names of people who are suspected of public corruption.

“We are sending a clear message that human rights abusers, those who profit from public corruption, and their families are not welcome in the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in the statement.

Florida Republican US Senator Marco Rubio has published a list of 23 names of Venezuelan officials whom he said should be sanctioned by the US government for human rights abuses.

In December after announcing the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, President Obama signed a bill allowing Washington to freeze assets on about 50 high-ranking Venezuelan officials responsible for the repression, arrests and trials of anti-government protestors. It also prevents them from entering the United States.

Maduro called it “an insolent measure.”

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On Sunday, the Venezuelan leader accused US Vice President Joe Biden of trying to drum up support to oust him from power during a recent Caribbean energy security summit he hosted in Washington.

“The imperialist power has entered into a desperate dangerous phase; they are talking to other governments across the continent to announce my ouster,” Maduro said.

Psaki, the State Department spokesman, called the charges “ludicrous.”

“The Venezuelan Government should focus on the legitimate grievances of its people, which include repeated violations of the freedom of speech – of freedom of speech and assembly as well as due process under the law,” she said.

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