U.S. President Barack Obama renewed Thursday an executive order issued last March that declared Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
The renewal of the decree is valid for one year and was revealed in a letter from Obama to congressional leaders. In the letter, the U.S. president claims that alleged conditions that first prompted the order had “not improved.”
The executive order was first issued by Obama in March 2015 and provoked a storm of controversy inside Venezuela and a backlash throughout Latin America.
Leaders from throughout the region condemned the decree.
All 33 members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States expressed their opposition to the U.S. government’s move and called for it to be reversed.
“CELAC calls upon the government of the United States of America and the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to launch a dialogue, under the principles of respect for sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of the states, the self-determination of the peoples and the democratic and institutional order in line with international law,” read the unanimous statement by the regional bloc.
The United Nations of South America also strongly criticized Obama’s order.
Inside Venezuela, millions signed a petition asserting that the country was not a threat and called for the decree to be repealed.
The U.S. president eventually responded to the outcry, admitting that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States in an interview with EFE.
The order allows the U.S. government to impose sanctions on Venezuela.