Published On: Mon, Jan 16th, 2017

Obama renews designation of Cuba and Venezuela as national security threats

State_DepartmentWASHINGTON - The United States declared a national emergency to deal with perceived "threats" in Cuba and Venezuela on Friday, along with Iran, Libya, Ukraine, Zimbabwe and countries that Washington claims "support terrorism." The declarations effectively extend for another year economic sanctions already in place.

President Barack Obama warned that one of the main national security threats to the US is mass undocumented immigration from Cuba, days after he ended the "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which granted residency to Cubans who arrived in the US without visas.

When a national emergency was declared against Venezuela in 2015, Obama also ordered sanctions against seven Venezuelan officials, saying they would be banned from travelling to the United States and any and all assets and properties belonging to them would be frozen.

He used an executive order in March 2015 to declare that the situation in Venezuela had “not improved.” He cited human rights violations, persecution of political dissenters and restrictions on the freedom of the press.

Under the National Emergencies Act sanctions must be renewed every year; however, the executive orders Obama signed on Friday are not set to expire until two months into the Trump administration. The move appears to suggest that the Obama administration is concerned that the renewals could get overlooked in the expected chaos of Trump's White House. If he chooses to, Trump could rescind the sanctions by executive order.

The United States currently has 31 officially declared national emergencies.

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