European Interest

European Parliament calls for sanctions against Venezuela’s president

Flickr/Diariocritico de Venezuela/CC BY 2.0
Members of the National Police arrest a student during an opposition demonstration against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas.

The European Parliament on February 8 called for EU sanctions to include Venezuela’s president, his deputy and military chiefs. A resolution approved by 480 votes to 51 with 70 abstentions said the sanctions should be “extended against those mainly responsible for the increased political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis, namely the President, the Vice-President, the Minister of Defence, members of the high military command, and members of their inner circles”.

The MEPs strongly condemned Venezuela’s decision to expel and declare Spain’s ambassador to Caracas “persona non grata”. As all EU foreign policy decisions including imposing sanctions, must be unanimous, MEPs called for full solidarity with Spain.

“Only elections based on a viable electoral calendar, agreed in the context of the national dialogue with all relevant actors and political parties, and respecting equal, fair and transparent conditions of participation… will be recognised by the EU,” agreed the MEPs. They added that they are ready to send an Electoral Observation Mission if all the necessary conditions are met.

MEPs also deplored the unilateral decision by Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, which is recognised neither internationally nor by the EU, to call early presidential elections by the end of April. They pointed out that the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s recent ruling excludes MUD opposition party representatives from the upcoming elections and that many potential candidates will be unable to run for election because they are exiled, subject to administrative disqualifications, imprisoned or under house arrest.

The European Parliament called on the Venezuelan authorities to allow unimpeded humanitarian aid into the country as a matter of urgency, as worsening child malnutrition and food and medicine shortages are resulting in many hundreds of deaths.

This is not the first time that the European Parliament has focussed on Venezuela. Last April, MEPs urged Venezuela’s government to ensure the full restoration of the democratic order and immediately release all political prisoners.

In November, the Council of the EU decided to impose an arms embargo on Venezuela. In January, it also decided, unanimously, to impose sanctions, such as travel bans and asset freezes, against seven Venezuelan individuals, in response to non-compliance with democratic principles, the rule of law and democracy.

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