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Obama Orders Expansion of Sanctions on Venezuelan Officials

US President Barack Obama speaks during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 2015.

US President Barack Obama speaks during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 2015.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
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President Barack Obama expanded U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials and declared worsening relations with the country to be a national emergency amid attempts by President Nicolas Maduro to stifle dissent.

The sanctions target people responsible for eroding human rights, persecuting political opponents, curtailing press freedoms and using violence or arrest against protesters. Obama notified Congress of his executive order on Monday.