This week, President Obama signed a much anticipated executive order expanding upon the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 that congress passed last year. The executive order places sanctions on officials of the Venezuelan government accused of violating the human rights of the Venezuelan people who voiced their discontent with a crippling economy, a 68% inflation, an increase in gas prices as well as nationwide scarcity of food and basic living essentials that is a direct result of the government’s currency control system.
Relations between the two countries have grown more tenuous since Congress placed sanctions on Venezuelan officials, to which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded by demanding that the U.S. reduce their diplomatic mission in the country to 20% of current staffing levels as well as a new requirement for U.S. nationals to obtain a tourist Visa before being able to travel to the Venezuela. The U.S. imposed sanction, come a year after the Maduro regime jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez along with dozens of students who exercised their right to peaceful protest.
Under the authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the National Emergencies Act, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and Section 301 of Tittle 3 of the U.S. Code, The president has imposed sanctions on seven individuals accused of violence against the Venezuelan people, corruption, and violations that subvert the democratic process in that country. The individuals being sanctioned are below:
- Gustavo Enrique González López: Director General of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and President of Venezuela’s Strategic Center of Security and Protection of the Homeland (CESPPA).
- Antonio José Benavides Torres: Commander of the Strategic Region for the Integral Defense (REDI) of the Central Region of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and former Director of Operations for Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard (GNB).
- Justo José Noguera Pietri: President of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG), a state-owned entity, and former General Commander of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard (GNB).
- Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron: national level prosecutor of the 20thDistrict Office of Venezuela’s Public Ministry.
- Manuel Eduardo Pérez Urdaneta: Director of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Police.
- Manuel Gregorio Bernal Martínez : Chief of the 31stArmored Brigade of Caracas of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Army and former Director General of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).
- Miguel Alcides Vivas Landino: Inspector General of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and former Commander of the Strategic Region for the Integral Defense (REDI) of the Andes Region of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Armed Forces.
While the sanctions are aimed at protecting American interests in the hemisphere, for the more than 250,000 Venezuelans in the United States, these sanctions are a step in the right direction and as a Venezuelan; I applaud the President for taking a bold stance against a regime that continues to undermine the human rights of its citizens. The Venezuelan people must come together and understand that there is no path forward without open dialogue between the government and the opposition and they must continue to put pressure in order to spur change.
Dakar Lanzino (@Dlanzino) is an associate for the Latinovations practice of Dewey Square group. He is the editor of the daily blog, La Plaza, and also manages the Latinovations social media platforms. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Lanzino joined the Latinovations team from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where he was a Business Policy Fellow for Government Relations. Having worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, his background is on opposition research, social media strategy, rapid response, event management and community engagement.
This article originally appeared on Latinovations.