Venezuelans in protest of U.S. sanctions

Dec 16, 2014, 2:31 AM EST
Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are seen during a demonstration in Caracas on December 15, 2014. Thousands of government supporters took to the streets criticising the new sanctions against Venezuela, which the US Congress has approved after considering the government's treatment of opposition protests earlier this year a violation of human rights.
AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of government supporters in Venezuela have marched through the streets of Caracas to denounce the recent approval of sanctions by the U.S. The BBC reports:

Wearing predominantly red, the protesters called on the United States to respect Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro addressed his supporters at the end of the march and accused the US of trying to intervene in his country's domestic affairs.

The sanctions against Venezuelan officials were approved last week. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last week after being approved by the Senate. It is now likely to be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

It targets current and former Venezuelan officials who directed "significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against persons associated with the anti-government protests in Venezuela that began on 4 February".

More than 40 people from both sides of the political divide were killed in the protests which took place in Venezuela between February and May.

The government said opposition leaders had incited protesters to violence and had been planning a coup against President Maduro.

The threat of sanctions has provided Nicolas Maduro a nationalist rallying cry to try and revive his popularity at the end of a tough year for Venezuela which is suffering widespread shortages of basic products and the worst inflation in the Americas. The Guardian writes:

Having recently slammed Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over his call for a jailed opponent to be released, the Venezuelan president said on Monday he would not retract his words despite the controversy caused in Europe.

“The Spanish right wing gets annoyed because I tell the truth. I’m not taking back a single comma or full-stop,” he said, before turning on Aznar, a long-time enemy of Venezuela’s 15-year-old socialist government.

“Aznar is a murderer ... His hands are covered in blood,” Maduro said, citing the Spaniard’s support of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.