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US renews sanctions against Venezuela

6 March 2016 19:33


US President Barack Obama has renewed an executive order that declares Venezuela a threat to the US, extending sanctions against the South American country for one more year.

In renewing the measure, Obama said on Thursday that the situation in Venezuela constituted an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” and that he was declaring a “national emergency” to counter that threat.

The Obama administration first issued the executive order against Venezuela in March of last year, which provoked a storm of controversy inside the country and a backlash throughout Latin America.

Following last year’s decree, Obama ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, whose economy has been battered by the steep drop in global oil prices.

Venezuela has condemned the measure as a sign of Washington’s perpetual hostility towards the Latin American nation.

The National Emergencies Act is a tool American presidents possess that allows them to impose sanctions on a country under certain circumstances that go beyond what Congress has approved.

The executive order also authorizes the US Treasury Department to impose additional sanctions on those found to have committed either “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions” or rights violations against persons involved in anti-government protests, the White House said.

US presidents have declared about 53 states of emergency since Congress passed the National Emergencies Act in 1976. The state of emergency forms the basis for most US sanctions against Iran.

The declaration would expire if the president expressly terminated the emergency or did not renew the emergency annually.

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