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European Union May Increase Sanctions on Venezuela

Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in Venezuela in one month. The main opposition in Venezuela will boycott the elections and all major countries in the Americas have said that they will not recognize the results.

Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and a Vice-President of the European Commission, released the following declaration in reference to the situation in Venezuela:

“Recent developments in Venezuela are causing further polarisation and are preventing progress on the multiple crises that the country is facing.

“The presidential elections are announced for 20 May, and will be held together with the election of the members of municipal and state assemblies. We deeply regret that elections have been convened without a wide agreement on the electoral calendar nor on the conditions for a credible and inclusive electoral process. We also regret the continued existence of political prisoners and obstacles to limit the participation of political parties and candidates. The recent decision of the National Electoral Council (CNE) to limit participation in local and regional elections to those parties that present candidates for the presidential elections is a further blow to the credibility of the process. This will only exacerbate polarisation and create more obstacles to a peaceful political solution.

“The European Union calls on the government to ensure free, transparent and credible elections that allow the participation of all political parties under equal conditions; a balanced composition of the CNE; an agreed and viable electoral calendar and all technical guarantees necessary for elections to conform to international standards. Such conditions are necessary to allow for full and independent international observations missions.

“The European Union is fully committed to supporting Venezuela to find peaceful and democratic solutions and is ready to use all its instruments to support regional and international efforts to that end. In this context, the European Union will monitor closely the electoral process and related developments on the ground and stands ready to react through appropriate measures to any decision or action that might continue to undermine democracy, the rule of law and human rights situation in the country.

“The European Union is also concerned and monitoring in close cooperation with the UN and other international organisations, the social impact of the ongoing economic crisis that is seriously affecting the population, including many European citizens residing in the country, and leading to the current mass migration that creates challenges to host communities, particularly Colombia and Brazil, and regional stability. As announced by Commissioner Stylianides during his recent visit to the region, the EU will be providing assistance to those affected.”

Although the declaration does not specify what would qualify as “appropriate measures,” it is possible that sanctions against the government could be on the table.

The EU increased sanctions against the Venezuelan government last January. Those sanctions included a travel ban and asset freezes on individuals. Those affected included former National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, and Chief Justice Maikel Moreno.

Sanctions and other actions by individual countries and the international community have severely isolated Venezuela.

Venezuela was kicked out of MERCOSUR last year for human rights violations. In addition to the European Union, many other advanced countries have placed sanctions on key members of the Maduro administration, including the United States and Canada.

Most recently, President Maduro found himself barred from attending the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, by President Martín Vizcarra. Human rights violations and the myriad of crisis occurring in Venezuela were a key topic of the Summit, including US Vice President Mike Pence’s speech.

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