WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of State announced Wednesday it has placed visa restrictions on an unspecified number of Venezuelan government officials in response to alleged human rights abuses.
At a daily press briefing, deputy spokesperson Marie Harf declined to identify who was among the "certain Venezuelan officials," citing visa confidentiality under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
She did, however, say that the "Venezuelan officials affected by these restrictions include individuals at various levels of government, from government ministers and presidential advisors to judicial officials, law enforcement, and military officials as well."
Harf explained that the action was taken in response to reported human rights abuses by those who have now been sanctioned.
The Venezuelan government has been criticized for violence toward opposition protesters and detaining thousands of anti-government protesters.
Anti-government demonstrations began in Venezuela in February, demanding an end to goods shortages, inflation and high crime. President Nicolas Maduro's government has blamed foreign-backed "fascists" for the unrest, while the opposition has claimed the security forces were to blame for the violence.