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Obama Executive Order on Venezuela: President Obama Executive Order Bans Venezuela Government Officials in US, Transfer of Goods

First Posted: Mar 09, 2015 05:20 PM EDT
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President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday addressing the "unusual and extraordinary threat" by Venezuela toward U.S. national security and foreign policy.

In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the president of the Senate, Obama was quick to clarify the executive order is not to target the people of Venezuela, but rather, the objective is toward persons involved in or responsible for the "erosion" of "human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protesters, as well as the exacerbating presence of significant public corruption in that country."

According to the executive order, all "property and interests" of select Venezuela individuals are blocked from entering the U.S. The U.S. Treasury secretary will collaborate with the Secretary of State to further determine the Venezuelan individuals who will be affected by the executive order.

Affected individuals include those who have undermined the democratic process, violated human rights and significant acts of violence, prohibited or limited the exercise of free speech and peaceful assembly and are a current or former official of the Venezuelan government.

The executive order also blocks entry of Venezuelan immigrants and non-immigrants who may be associated with the "erosion" of human rights unless the Secretary of State determines an exemption that is in the national interest of the U.S. Obama's order further instructs a contribution ban on funds, good and services if the receiver is an individual associated with the Venezuelan government.

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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged the executive order adds onto the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. Earnest reiterated Venezuelan officials who have violated their country's human rights and engaged in public corruption "will not be welcome here" in the U.S.

"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," Earnest said.

"We have consistently called on the Venezuelan government to release those it has unjustly jailed as well as to improve the climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. These are essential to a functioning democracy, and the Venezuelan government has an obligation to protect these fundamental freedoms."

The White House acknowledged the imprisonment of opposition figures including Leopoldo Lopez, mayors Daniel Ceballos and Antonio Ledezma and "dozens" of students.

"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," continued Earnest.

According to the White House, the executive order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Monday.

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