US bans Venezuelan officials for alleged rights abuses

Sanctions imposed mainly on Venezuelan security officials who put down protests last year in which 43 people died.

    US bans Venezuelan officials for alleged rights abuses
    Despite the diplomatic tensions, Venezuela has remained one of the top suppliers of oil to the US [AP]

    Relations between the US and Venezuela have deteriorated after Washington imposed visa restrictions on officials said to be involved in alleged human rights abuses and those believed responsible for public corruption in the oil-exporting country.

    Monday's sanctions were imposed mainly on Venezuelan security officials who put down protests last year in which 43 people died, and that they could affect immediate family members of those listed.

    President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's president, slammed the move and called it hypocritical in the latest sign of discord between the two countries.

    "What human rights are they talking about?," Maduro said on Monday night.

    "They kill black youth in the street with impunity, they persecute and have concentration camps of Central American kids.

    "[In Guantanamo], they have abducted dozens of citizens of the world under no known legal system, submitting them to torture, isolation."

    The US state department said in a statement that it would not identify the targets of its actions because of US visa confidentiality regulations.

    "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," the department said.

    Venezuela's socialist government has long accused Washington of seeking to destabilise its rule to gain control of the country's oil.

    Relations worsened after the administration of former US President George W Bush applauded a botched coup in 2002 against the late President Hugo Chavez.

    Despite the diplomatic tensions, Venezuela has remained one of the top suppliers of oil to the US.


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