Demonstrations back in February resulted in violent clashes between protesters and government forces. Leo Ramirez /AFP/Getty Images
The State Department on Wednesday announced it was revoking visas for a number of Venezuelan government officials the U.S. says have violated the human rights of the Venezuelan people.
“We have seen repeated efforts to repress legitimate expression of dissent through judicial intimidation, to limit freedom of the press, and to silence members of the political opposition,” Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.
If you remember, the Venezuelan government deployed its military to pacify protests that erupted back in February.
The State Department did not name the individuals it was sanctioning, nor did it say how many will be affected by the restrictions. Harf explained:
“With this step we underscore our commitment to holding accountable individuals who commit human rights abuses. While we will not publicly identify these individuals because of visa record confidentiality, our message is clear: those who commit such abuses will not be welcome in the United States.”
The Wall Street Journal quotes congressional aides briefed on the matter saying the sanctions affect “high-ranking Venezuelan military, National Guard and police officials.”
The paper adds:
“The sanctions would come just three days after the U.S. failed in its efforts to secure the extradition of Gen. Hugo Carvajal, Venezuela’s former intelligence chief who is wanted in the U.S. on drug charges and had been detained on the Dutch island of Aruba.
“Last week, Mr. Carvajal, whose nickname is El Pollo, or ‘the chicken,’ was detained on the Dutch island of Aruba for four days, generating angry accusations from Venezuela’s government that he had been ‘kidnapped,’ and warning Aruba would suffer economic consequences.
“He was set free Sunday when the Dutch government determined that Mr. Carvajal, who had been named, but not yet recognized as consul in Aruba, had diplomatic immunity. The Dutch decision reversed an earlier ruling by Aruba authorities who found Mr. Carvajal had no such immunity and was liable to arrest.”