The U.S. State Department said Friday it would prohibit two sanctioned Venezuelan officials and their families from entering the country.
It marks the latest use of a law passed last year that allows the State Department to bar entry to the U.S. of foreign officials involved in significant corruption or human rights violations. This week, the department barred an Albanian mayor and a Zimbabwean official; in mid-July, it blocked four top Burmese military officials.
Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza, commander of Venezuela’s police special forces (FAES), and Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala, commander of the country’s General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), were both publicly designated for their roles in human rights violations, the State Department said.
“The security and intelligence organizations led by Bastardo and Hernandez have been implicated for their human rights violations and abuses and the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition,” the department said.
The State Department cited a United Nations report that said Venezuelan security forces, particularly the DGCIM, resorted to practices such as torture and inhumane treatment “to extract information and confessions, intimidate, and punish detainees.” Venezuela responded by saying the U.N. report represented “a selective and openly biased vision” of the situation in the country.
In addition to the visa bans on the two men, the State Department also publicly designated their wives and their minor children. Bastardo and Hernandez were both sanctioned by the Treasury Department in February. The DGCIM and several of its leading officials were designated in July.