Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hailed on Friday a statement from a top Obama administration official. He indicated the administration’s reluctance to pass sanctions against Venezuelan officials suspected of being involved in abuses against opposition protestors, saying he would name a new top diplomat for Washington in response. He also warned that if sanctions were to be passed, Venezuela would not “stand by with crossed arms,” adding that “we could reach the point where we wouldn’t have an embassy or a consulate in the United States."

The Associated Press writes that Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson told representatives in the House after the chamber voted in support of sanctions that the administration didn’t believe it was “the right time” for such a bill, as dialogues between the government and and opposition coalition proceed fitfully. A similar bill, which freezes assets and visas for Venezuelan officials and allocates $15 million to opposition groups, has passed the committee in the Senate, though no date has been set for it to go to a vote with the whole chamber. 

“We hail these types of declaration which are simply a leap toward good sense,” said Maduro during a televised speech from the Miraflores Palace, adding that he had “read with great attention” Jacobson’s remarks before the lower chamber. The assistant secretary of state had gone on, on Thursday, to assert the executive branch’s power to act unilaterally on foreign affairs of the sort, saying that it had “sufficient authority and means to apply sanctions of any type today” and adding that as such, “we don’t believe a new law is necessary."