“This new authority is aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to antigovernment protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of antigovernment protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela,” the release said.
Seven Venezuelan individuals are on the list, including Antonio Jose Benavides Torres, Commander of the Strategic Region for the Integral Defense; Gustavo Enrique Gonzalez Lopez, Director General of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service; Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron, national-level prosecutor; Manuel Eduardo Perez Urdaneta, Director of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Police.
Relations between Washington and Caracas have worsened over alleged human rights violations during protests in Venezuela’s capital against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in February of 2014.
Last December, US President Barack Obama approved sanctions on Venezuela, targeting several individuals who were allegedly responsible for human rights violations during the February protests.
Maduro announced on March 1 that Venezuela was planning to introduce mandatory visas for US citizens entering the country. The Venezuelan President also said that he considers limiting US diplomatic presence in his country over the United States’ attempts to meddle in Venezuela’s internal affairs.