The United States government declared Venezuela a national security threat and sanctions seven Venezuelan nationals for alleged human rights violations and corruption. “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 US financial systems,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
“We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela’s problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent,” the White House spokesman added.
President Obama said he declared “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.”
As a response, the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said “President Obama has decided to put himself into a box with no way out, a box of failure. And he has decided that he wants to be remembered in the future like Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.” He added “President Obama, you don’t have a right to attack us nor to declare that Venezuela is a threat to the people of the United States.”
The Venezuelan President said he will request from the National Assembly to give him expanded powers. Opposition officials in Venezuela warned that special powers could allow Maduro to declare a state of emergency or to suspend the legislative election scheduled for later this year. Venezuela also recalled its charge d’affaires from Washington DC.