Tuesday, February 23, 2021

EU imposed sanctions on top Venezuelan officials over election fraud

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EU foreign ministers on Monday imposed sanctions on 19 leading Venezuelan officials accused of undermining democracy or violating human rights in the South American country.

The officials — which include high-ranking generals and other army commanders as well as supreme court judges and senior politicians from the regime of strongman Nicolás Maduro — were hit with travel bans and asset freezes “in view of the deteriorating situation in Venezuela following the December 2020 elections,” the Council of the EU said in a statement.

The December elections for a new Venezuelan National Assembly have been widely criticized as undemocratic and were boycotted by large parts of the opposition, including main opposition leader Juan Guaidó. EU foreign ministers adopted conclusions last month saying that the elections “failed to comply with the international standards for a democratic process” and cannot be recognized as credible.

The restrictions come on top of previous EU sanctions imposed on Venezuela in 2017, which included an embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for repression as well as a list of individuals hit with travel bans and asset freezes. The new sanctions bring the total number of targeted Venezuelan officials to 55.

The measures “are designed not to have adverse humanitarian effects or unintended consequences for the Venezuelan population, and can be reversed,” the Council statement said, adding: “The EU will continue to engage and work with all stakeholders in Venezuela to promote peaceful dialogue and a democratic and sustainable solution to the crises in the country.”

Last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU foreign ministers faced criticism from MEPs for adopting an EU position that downgraded Guaidó.

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