"Although historically the United States had close relations with Venezuela, a major oil supplier, friction in bilateral relations increased under the leftist, populist government of President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), who died in 2013 after battling cancer. After Chávez's death, Venezuela held presidential elections in which acting President Nicolás Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), with the opposition alleging significant irregularities. In 2014, the Maduro government violently suppressed protests and imprisoned a major opposition figure, Leopoldo López, along with others. [...] U.S. policymakers and Members of Congress have had concerns for more than a decade about the deterioration of human rights and democratic conditions in Venezuela and the government's lack of cooperation on antidrug and counterterrorism efforts. After a 2014 government-opposition dialogue failed, the Administration imposed visa restrictions and asset-blocking sanctions on Venezuelan officials involved in human rights abuses. The Obama Administration has continued to speak out about the democratic setback and poor human rights situation, called repeatedly for the release of political prisoners, expressed deep concern about the humanitarian situation, and strongly supported dialogue. The Administration supported the efforts Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro to focus attention on Venezuela's democratic setback."
CRS Report for Congress, R43239
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html