Seven months after President Barack Obama declared Venezuela a national security threat and issued sanctions against the country, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he'll sue the U.S. government over the move.
Obama issued both an executive order with the declaration and also sanctions against seven government officials, who the U.S. government says have been involved in corruption or human rights abuses.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Maduro made the announcement that he will be suing the Obama Administration during a speech on Thursday:
“We can’t have that decree around. It’s like the Sword of Damocles here,” Mr. Maduro said in a televised address, pointing to his neck. “We’re going to file a lawsuit in the U.S. against that decree.”
He said the suit would expose the “international illegality” of President Barack Obama’s March 9 order, which also slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan government officials accused of committing rights abuses during a clampdown on protesters last year.
Relations between the U.S. and Venezuela have hit an all-time low in the past year. Immediately following Obama's decree, the Venezuelan government demanded that the U.S. downsize its embassy, appointing one of the sanctioned officials to a ministerial position, and tightening visa conditions for Americans, Al Jazeera reports.
"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," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in March. "We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents," he added.
Maduro's government is facing the possibility of losing power for the first time in 16 years in Venezuela's congressional elections this December.