The United States of America has declared Venezuela (officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) a national security threat. The US has ordered sanctions against seven officials from the oil-rich country in the worst bilateral diplomatic dispute since socialist President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013. US President Barack Obama signed and issued the executive order, which senior administration officials said did not target Venezuela’s energy sector or broader economy.
- In the sign of rising tensions between the United States and Venezuela, President Barack Obama issued and signed an executive order declaring the Latin American country “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” and ordering sanctions on seven state officials.
- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced the sanctions as an attempt to topple his government. At the end of a thundering two-hour speech, Maduro said he would seek decree powers to counter the “imperialist” threat, and appointed one of the sanctioned officials as the new interior minister.
The two countries have not had full diplomatic representation since 2008, when late socialist leader Hugo Chavez expelled the then US Ambassador Patrick Duddy. Washington at the time responded by expelling Venezuelan envoy Bernardo Alvarez.
Venezuela’s economy is in shambles and the country’s President, Nicolas Maduro, has sparked protests for locking up opposition leaders. Maduro also recently drew U.S. ire for saying his government had captured Americans — including a pilot — involved in espionage activities, and that U.S. citizens in the future will have to seek visas to come to the OPEC nation.
The list of sanctioned individuals includes:
- Gustavo Gonzalez, head of state intelligence service Sebin;
- Manuel Perez, director of the national police; and
- Justo Noguero, a former National Guard commander who now runs state mining firm CVG.
- The list also includes three other military officers and a state prosecutor.