Timeline: Sanctions on Venezuela

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WikiTribune is charting the growing number of sanctions and measures taken against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government by individual countries, regional blocs, and multilateral organizations. 

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May 28, 2014

The United States House of Representatives passed the Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act (H.R. 4587; 113th Congress), a bill that would apply economic sanctions against Venezuelan officials who were involved in the mistreatment of protestors during the 2014 Venezuelan protests.

December 2014

The US Congress passed Senate 2142 (the “Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014”).

March 9, 2015

The United States President, Barack Obama, signed and issued a presidential order declaring Venezuela a “threat to its national security” and ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro denounced the sanctions as an attempt to topple his socialist government. Washington said that the sanctions targeted individuals who were involved in the violation of Venezuelans’ human rights, saying that “we are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents.”

August 19, 2018

Argentinian President Mauricio Macri proposed a multi-country effort to report Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s administration to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity. This was the latest in a series of regional and international measures ramping up the pressure on the leaders of the crisis-struck country.

Macri made the announcement in an interview with CNN in Spanish on August 19, as reported by Reuters. The Argentinian president said he plans to report Maduro’s government to the ICC “in the next few weeks” and that he has the backing of the presidents of Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Colombia.

“For me, there is no doubt: In Venezuela, human rights are systematically violated by steamrolling the opposition and everyone. There is a growing sense that we need to take more forceful action,” said Macri.

This isn’t the first time Maduro’s administration has been referred to the ICC. In February, the international tribunal’s prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation into alleged human rights violations in Venezuela during the 2017 protests. In November 2017, Venezuela’s former attorney general Luisa Ortega urged the ICC to probe Maduro’s government for human rights abuses (Yahoo! News).

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Venezuela is undergoing an acute socioeconomic, political and humanitarian crisis. On August 20, the country issued a new currency – backed by a controversial (CNBC) national cryptocurrency called Petro – in an effort to combat the world’s largest rate of inflation. Economists said the measure might fuel inflation. Over the past year, roughly a million Venezuelans have left the country due to shortages of basic goods and rampant insecurity.

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Maduro has repeatedly blamed Venezuela’s current crisis on an “economic war” which he says is supported by the country’s political opposition and “imperialist forces”.

Many top figures in Venezuela’s administration have been sanctioned by the U.S., and more recently, the European Union. In December 2016, the country was also suspended from Mercosur for violating the regional trade bloc’s democratic principles (Al Jazeera).

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United States

  1. Statutes:
    1. Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014
    2. International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701-1706
    3. National Emergencies Act (NEA), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1601-1651
  2. Executive Orders:
    1. 13835 – Prohibiting Certain Additional Transactions with Respect to Venezuela (May 21, 2018)
    2. 13827 – Taking Additional Steps to Deal with the Situation in Venezuela (March 19, 2018)
    3. 13808 – Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to the Situation in Venezuela (August 24, 2017)
    4. 13692 – Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela (March 8, 2015)

European Union

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