Relations between the US and Venezuela deteriorated on Monday after Washington announced that it had introduced sanctions against seven senior members of the government in Caracas.
The additional sanctions came as the White Housed declared Venezuela a national security and foreign policy threat, citing its poor human rights record and increased imprisonment of dissidents.
US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew pointed to “corrupt Venezuelan government actions” to deprive the country of necessary economic resources and stall development and growth.
“These actions also undermine the public trust in democratic institutions and the human rights to which Venezuelan citizens are entitled.”
Relations between Caracas and Washington, already at a low due to diplomatic rifts between the late President Hugo Chavez and the White House, took a turn for the worse last year when Venezuela accused the United States of conspiring with protesters to overthrow the government.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro then expelled three American consular officials from Caracas.
In the time since, Maduro’s security forces have continue to clamp down on dissent and street protests ignited by a weakening economy anda lack in basic amenities such as sugar, milk, and toilet paper, as well as some medicines.
On Monday, the White House announcement – also known as the Venezuela Executive Order – said: “We will continue to work closely with others in the region to support greater political expression in Venezuela, and to encourage the Venezuelan government to live up to its shared commitment, as articulated in the OAS Charter, the Inter American Democratic Charter, and other relevant instruments related to democracy and human rights.”
Venezuela says it will soon respond to the US move.
“We will soon make public Venezuela’s response to these declarations,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told reporters.
Maduro has repeatedly blamed the US for inciting street protests and intervening in domestic affairs.
No US ambassador has served in the Caracas diplomatic mission since 2010.
The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies