The Treasury Department sanctioned eight judges on Venezuela’s supreme court Thursday, shortly after President Trump said the constitutional and economic crisis in the country was “a disgrace to humanity.”
The sanctions were imposed for a high court ruling earlier this year that stripped power from Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress. The decision, which the United States called a “serious setback for democracy,” brought international condemnation and led the court to partially reverse it.
The judges who are punished include the supreme court’s president, Maikel Moreno, and the seven principal judges on the court’s constitutional chamber: Juan José Mendoza, Arcadio de Jesús Delgado, Gladys Gutiérrez, Carmen Zuleta de Merchán, Luis Fernando Damiani Bustillos, Lourdes Benicia Suárez Anderson and Calixto Ortega.
Under the sanctions, any money they have in U.S. banks is frozen, and it is illegal for U.S. citizens to conduct any transactions with them. They also are prohibited from getting visas to travel to the United States.
The sanctions aim to change the behavior of the officials in the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The collapse of the economy in the oil-rich country has brought escalating rounds of large protests by Venezuelans who don’t have money to buy food. More than 40 people have died in the past six weeks.