WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday signed legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials accused of violating protesters’ rights during demonstrations earlier this year.
Congress had approved the measure last week and sent it to him for his signature.
The measure would deny visas and freeze assets of officials involved in what the law considers a crackdown on political opponents during three months of street protests in Venezuela over crime and the economy.
Those protests sparked violence that killed 43 people, including demonstrators, government supporters and security officials.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused Obama of hypocrisy for enabling the sanctions a day after announcing an effort to normalize relations with Communist-run Cuba, which has been under U.S. trade sanctions for decades.
“These are the contradictions of an empire that seeks to impose its domination by whatever means, underestimating the power and conscience of our fatherland,” Maduro said via his Twitter account.
U.S. officials say there is still no final list of Venezuelan officials who will be targeted.
Diplomats in Caracas said it could run into the dozens, involving mainly security officials involved in putting down the protests earlier this year, adding they did not expect the names to be published.
“These sanctions are not against the Venezuelan people, or against the Venezuelan government as a whole but against individuals accused of violations,” said one U.S. embassy official who asked not to be identified.
Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Andrew Cawthorne, Eyanir Chinea in Caracas; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Grant McCool