On 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”.The move was denounced by other Latin American countries. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States issued a statement criticizing Washington’s “unilateral coercive measures against International Law.” The Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Ernesto Samper, said that the body rejects “any attempt at internal or external interference that attempts to disrupt the democratic process in Venezuela.”
Following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Citgo, a US-based oil company owned by the Venezuelan government, gifted $500,000 toward Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.
On April 20, 2017, the Venezuelan Government seized the General Motors Plant in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, causing the plant to close operations.
On August 11, 2017, President Trump said that he is “not going to rule out a military option” to confront the autocratic government of Nicolás Maduro and the deepening crisis in Venezuela. Venezuela’s Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino López, immediately criticized Trump for his statement, calling it “an act of supreme extremism” and “an act of madness”.