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Venezuela recalls top diplomat in U.S. over renewal of sanctions to top officials

President Nicolas Maduro on Jan. 15, 2016.

President Nicolas Maduro on Jan. 15, 2016.  (ap)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that his country’s top diplomat in the United States would be withdrawn in protest of a recent decision to renew a U.S. decree imposing sanctions on several top officials.

“We don’t accept impositions or aggressions,” he said in a televised address on Wednesday announcing that Maximilien Sanchez Arvelaiz, who had been acting charge d’affaires, was being recalled. “Enough of the arrogance.”

The two nations haven’t exchanged ambassadors since 2010.

In March of 2015, President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials, accusing them of perpetrating human rights violations and public corruption in the socialist-governed country. The individuals all came from the top echelon of the state security apparatus that was responsible for cracking down on anti-government protests that rocked Venezuela in 2104 and for pursuing charges against leading opponents.

The sanctions come after the U.S. Congress passed legislation authorizing penalties that would freeze the assets and ban visas for anyone accused of carrying out acts of violence or violating the human rights of those opposing Venezuela's government.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan officials said that Obama had sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. legislatures saying the sanctions would be renewed because the situation in Venezuela had not improved.

Maduro said the renewal "is a stain for Obama because he had plenty of opportunities to rectify the situation but imposed arrogance."

The countries have had stormy relations since the late Hugo Chavez became president of Venezuela in 1999.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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