EspañolWhite House officials decided to toughen their stance against Venezuela on Monday, announcing sanctions against seven security and justice officials in the Maduro regime. The individuals are accused of human-rights violations, including arbitrary arrests of protesters, restrictions on freedom of the press, and various other abuses in reaction to the ongoing protests against the Venezuelan government.
Bank accounts and other holdings will be blocked or frozen under the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014. Further, US citizens will be prohibited from doing business with the officials on the list, who are banned from entering the United States.
Sanctions for Whom?
1. Antonio José Benavides Torres
Benavides is the head of the Strategic Region for Integral Defense with the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) for the Central region. For a year prior to his promotion in July 2014, Benavides Torres acted as the director of operations for the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB).
During the anti-government protests in February 2014, Benavides, chief general (the highest military rank of the country) of the GNB, helped engineer the repressive strategies employed against the demonstrators.
“In various cities in Venezuela, members of the GNB used force against peaceful protestors and journalists, including severe physical violence, sexual assault, and firearms,” the White House statement says.
2. Gustavo Enrique González López
González is the director of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) — the Venezuelan political police — and the Strategic Security and Protection Center of the Fatherland (Cesppa).
He is accused of being one of those responsible for the violence that resulted in numerous human-rights violations, specifically during the government demonstrations in February 2014. That is in addition to a hand in government surveillance of opposition leaders.
The White House also claims that while heading SEBIN, González has committed hundreds of illegal burglaries and extrajudicial detentions in Venezuela. González is also a major general (the second highest rank) in the Venezuelan Army.
In February, 2015, SEBIN agents arbitrarily detained the Mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma.
3. Justo José Noguera Pietri
Noguera, also a major general, has been the president of the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation since July 2014. Prior to this position he served as commanding general of the GNB, which has been charged with coordinating repression of nationwide protests.
In March 2014, two Venezuelan lawyers lobbied the Supreme Court for protection for the protesters. Their request mentions Noguera, along with Benavides Torres, as being responsible for continuing human-rights violations.
4. Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padrón
Haringhton Padrón is the Venezuelan prosecutor who signed the charges against ex-National Assembly legislator María Corina Machada and former mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, for supposedly conspiring to commit murder and plotting a coup d’état against President Maduro.
According to the statement from the White House, Haringhton’s allegations are based on implausible information, and were in some cases invented: “The evidence used in support of the charges against Machado and others was, at least in part, based on fraudulent emails.”
5. Manuel Eduardo Pérez Urdaneta
Pérez is the current head of the Bolivarian National Police, one of the parties involved in the repression of the February 2014 protests.
On February 24 this year, the National Police killed 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa in San Cristóbal, while he was participating in a protest against the Maduro government. Furthermore, the PNB had a chief role in the excesses that led to the deaths of 43 people last year.
6. Manuel Gregorio Bernal Martínez
Bernal was head of the SEBIN during the anti-government demonstrations in February 2014. Under his leadership, agents fired their weapons at protesters, killing two people near the Attorney General’s office.
After being removed from his post for allegedly disobeying Maduro’s orders to withdraw forces from the site of the protest, Martinez was assigned to the 31st Armored Brigade in Caracas.
7. Manuel Alcides Vivas Landino
Vivas Landino is the inspector general of the Venezuelan Armed Forces (FANB). During the February 2014 protests, he served as the Andes head of the Region for Comprehensive Strategic Defense with FANB. San Cristobal, one of the main centers of anti-government protests and repression of demonstrators, falls under his jurisdiction.
Translated by Michael Pelzer. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.