Obama on Monday issued an executive order freezing the assets in the U.S. and denying visas to seven Venezuelan officials and freezing their assets in the U.S. The officials - including the former head of the country's intelligence service and the leader of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Police - are deemed responsible for cracking down on anti-government protesters in clashes between the two sides that left more than 40 people dead and led to the jailing of a number of prominent opposition political figures.
The executive order is an expansion of the Venezuelan Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 that was passed by Congress and signed into law in last December. The act, among other things, declared the situation in Venezuela a “national emergency” – a move that some observers see as doing more harm than good in regards to relations between Caracas and Washington.
“Using that kind of language just throws more gasoline on the fire,” Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. told Fox News Latino.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called the move the "greatest act of aggression" by the U.S. against his country in history.
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