On March 9, 2015, following failed diplomatic efforts to bring Venezuela in line with its human rights commitments under international law, President Obama issued an Executive Order (E.O.) declaring Venezuela a national security threat. The E.O. implements the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which the President signed into law on December 18, 2014 (see prior alert here).
The E.O. orders sanctions against seven of Venezuela’s military and security officials responsible for the human rights abuses associated with the anti-government protests that began in February 2014 and the persecution of persons in Venezuela exercising freedom of speech or assembly. The E.O. also expands the basis for making further sanctions designations beyond those outlined in the law to address more generally the erosion of democratic processes and public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela. Notably, the E.O. provides the authority to sanction persons who have materially assisted, sponsored or supported such actions.
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