In the latest sign of rising tensions between the United States and Venezuela, President Barack Obama on Monday 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.
Justifying its mandate, the executive order cites alleged “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 anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption.”
Relations between the two countries “are currently in tatters,” as NPR puts it.
Congress passed legislation late last year authorizing penalties that would freeze the assets and ban visas for anyone accused of carrying out acts of violence or violating the human rights of those opposing Venezuela’s government. State officials said those sanctions were politically motivated.