Obama declares Venezuela national security threat to the US

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat on Monday. Obama ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, who stand…
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Obama has declared Venezuela a national security to the U.S. and has taken appropriate measures. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat on Monday.

Obama ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, who stand accused of human rights violations. He also expressed concern at how poorly and inhumanely political opponents of the Venezuelan government are treated.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela announces arrest of pilot, other citizens; tightens US travel rules

“We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela’s problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest in a statement.

The White House reported that the people targeted were individuals whose actions undermined democratic processes or institutions, had committed acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption, according to The Guardian.

The seven officials named will have their property and interests in the United States blocked or frozen and will be denied entry into the United States. US citizens would also be prohibited from doing business with them.

Venezuelan mayor is arrested.

Mitzy Capriles de Ledezma, the wife of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, chants for the release of her husband, as she stands behind two national police officer on guard outside intelligence service police headquarters, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. Many other opponents of the government fear for their lives as well. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here,” “And we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.

The White House called on Venezuela to release all political prisoners, including “dozens of students” and opposition leaders and advised against blaming Washington for its problems.

“We’ve seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces,” said Earnest.

Venezuela continues to suffer this year. High prices soar, access to basic goods is limited, inflation has risen by 64.3%, according to CNBC, and increasing more every day.

SEE ALSO: A timeline of Venezuela’s slide toward disaster

Nicolas Maduro announces the arrest of US spies in Venezuela and travel restrictions.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, center, waves a national flag during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Several critics of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, including opposition leader and Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, have been jailed in recent months.

Ledezma was arrested in February for involvement in an alleged coup and mere days ago, Maduro jailed an American pilot for American accused of attempted coup in Táchira.