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Obama levies sanctions on 7 Venezuelan officials

Barack Obama

Washington: President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials today, accusing them of perpetrating human rights violations and public corruption in the socialist-governed South American nation.

The individuals all come from the top echelon of the state security apparatus that was responsible for cracking down on anti-government protests that rocked Venezuela last year and for pursuing charges against leading opponents.

“Corrupt actions by Venezuelan government officials deprive Venezuela of needed economic resources that could be invested in the Venezuelan people and used to spur economic growth,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a statement.

“These actions also undermine the public trust in democratic institutions and the human rights to which Venezuelan citizens are entitled.”

The sanctions come after the US Congress passed legislation late last year authorizing penalties that would freeze the assets and ban visas for anyone accused of carrying out acts of violence or violating the human rights of those opposing Venezuela’s government.

President Nicolas Maduro railed against the sanctions Tuesday night in a speech that all Venezuelan radio and television stations were required to carry. The embattled president denounces the Yankee empire almost nightly on national television, but yesterday he took an unusually furious tone, saying the sanctions were further proof that the US is determined to topple his administration and seize control of Venezuela.

“President Barack Obama, in the name of the US imperialist elite, has decided to personally take on the task of defeating my government, intervening in Venezuela, and controlling it from the US,” he said. “Obama today took the most aggressive, unjust and poisonous step that the US has ever taken against Venezuela.”

He vowed that US meddling would have no effect on his government.

“Obama’s time will end, and the revolution will continue,” he said.

Diosdado Cabello, the powerful head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, said Maduro would personally denounce the US actions when he, Obama and regional leaders travel to Panama next month to attend the Summit of the Americas.

“Mr. Obama, you and your imperialists are going to have to sanction lots of Venezuelans who are willing to give their life to defend the Bolivarian revolution and the project started by Comandante Hugo Chavez,” Cabello told a rally of government supporters.

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