WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) — Washington announced additional visa restrictions against Venezuelan officials and their families tied to human rights violations and corruption, according to the statement released by the US Department of State.
“The US Government has imposed visa restrictions on an additional number of current and former Venezuelan government officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses,” the release published on Monday read. “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.”
“We emphasize the action we are announcing today is specific to individuals and not directed at the Venezuelan nation or its people,” the release said.
Last week Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that Washington has orchestrated several plots against Venezuela, adding that opposition is currently plotting a coup with US backing.
A series of protest against high levels of violence, record inflation and shortages of basic goods took place across Venezuela between February and June of last year. The Venezuelan government deemed the protests to be coup attempts and arrested a number of opposition leaders.
Last December, US President Barack Obama approved sanctions on Venezuela, targeting individuals who are allegedly responsible for human rights violations during February protests against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro warned that the imposition of sanctions would worsen relations between the two countries, describing the move as imperialist and disrespectful.
Relations between Venezuela and the United States have been tense after socialist Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1999. Since 2010, the countries have refused to exchange ambassadors, and in 2014 Caracas ordered three US diplomats to leave the country based on suspicion of promoting violence.