United States expands Venezuela visa bans

Feb 03, 2015, 3:05 AM EST
Pilgrim hold a giant Venezuela's national flag as Pope Francis addresses the crowd from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St.Peter's square during his Sunday Angelus prayer on November 9, 2014 at the Vatican.
AFP/Getty Images

The United States has imposed visa restrictions on unnamed Venezuelan officials it accuses of human rights violations and corruption, the BBC reports. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the measures were an attempt to violate Venezuelan sovereignty. They build on sanctions imposed last year on officials alleged to have violated the rights of protesters.

The list of officials banned from entering the US has been extended, and now includes family members. "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," said US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. 

Maduro reacted angrily and said he would write a letter to US President Barack Obama. "We can't let an empire that has been eyeing all of us pretend or think it has the right to sanction the country of [Simon] Bolivar," Maduro said, making reference to the Venezuela-born hero of Latin American liberation.

The sanctions imposed in December were aimed at officials accused over their role in suppressing anti-government protests that shook Venezuela in the first six months of 2014.

The Venezuela also accused the US of being behind an attempted coup in Venezuela. And it’s none other than Vice-president Joe Biden who’s behind the entire operation, Maduro alleges, according to RT.

This is the first time a direct accusation of this gravity was made in front of thousands of cheering spectators and the world at large, despite an earlier Friday statement, when Maduro struck out at several US federal agencies for allegedly plotting against Venezuela.

"The northern imperial power has entered a dangerous phase of desperation, going to talk to the continent's governments to announce the overthrow of my government. And I accuse Vice-president Joe Biden of this," the head of state said, addressing the people at the 198th anniversary of the birth of a Venezuelan hero general Zamora in Cua, Miranda state. He also questioned US President Barack Obama publically, whether he was “aware of these plans to promote violence and a coup in Venezuela” and “appealed to his consciousness.”

“There are US diplomats in Venezuela contracting military officials to betray their country, looking to influence socialist political leaders, public opinion leaders and entrepreneurs to provoke a coup,” the head of state went on.