Obama plans to sign bill to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (Xinhua/Sun) -- U.S. President Barack Obama plans to sign into law a bill that would levy sanctions against some Venezuelan officials over human rights violations, the White House said on Thursday.
The bill targets Venezuelan officials who directed "significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses" against protesters during anti-government demonstrations earlier this year. The protests that started from February resulted in more than 43 people dead and over 800 injured.
"The president plans to sign the bill into law and will coordinate with the relevant agencies and members to implement the law," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a regular briefing on Thursday.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday and the Senate approved the measure on Monday.
"We have not and will not remain silent in the face of Venezuelan government actions that violate human rights and fundamental freedoms and deviate from well-established democratic norms," Earnest said.
The sanctions will include denying visas to the targeted Venezuelan officials and freezing the assets and properties they possess in the United States.
On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced the bill in a televised speech, warning of "severe" countermeasures if it is finally approved.
"If irrationality triumphs and the sanctions are finally imposed on Venezuela, Mr. Obama, you will end up in a very bad position regarding our bilateral ties," said Maduro, adding that Venezuela is willing to have relations of "peace and respect" with Washington but won't tolerate U.S. interference in its domestic policies.
The Venezuelan president said on Saturday he was "revising" diplomatic relations with the United States because of a " continued policy of interventionism" by Washington in his country' s internal affairs.
Washington and Caracas have had a tense relation since late president Hugo Chavez took power in 1999 and since 2010 both nations have not exchanged ambassadors with a constant trade of accusations