"Venezuela is in an acute political, economic, and social crisis. Following the March 2013 death of populist President Hugo Chávez, acting President Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) to be elected to a six-year term in April 2013. [...] U.S. policymakers have had concerns for more than a decade about the deterioration of human rights and democracy in Venezuela and the government's lack of cooperation on antidrug and counterterrorism efforts. The Obama Administration strongly criticized the Maduro government's heavy-handed response to protests in 2014, provided assistance to civil society groups, and employed sanctions against Venezuelan officials linked to drug trafficking, terrorism, and human rights abuses. At the same time, it supported efforts at dialogue and OAS [Organization of American States] activities. The Trump Administration has followed the same general approach. In February 2017, the Treasury Department imposed drug-trafficking sanctions against Vice President Tareck el Aissami, and in May 2017 it imposed sanctions on eight Supreme Court judges that had dissolved the legislature. President Trump and the State Department have called for the release of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López and all political prisoners. State Department officials have condemned the Supreme Court's rulings and the repression of protests. However, the FY2018 budget request does not include funding for democracy and human rights programs in Venezuela."
CRS Report for Congress, R44841
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html