Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for the bloc to extend restrictive measures against Venezuela to include President Nicolas Maduro, his deputy, army chiefs and other top government officials.
Current EU sanctions include an arms embargo, which was imposed in November 2017, and travel bans and asset freezes against seven Venezuelan individuals, imposed last month in response to ‘non-compliance with democratic principles, the rule of law and democracy.’
The lawmakers highlighted concerns with issues pertaining to human rights and also condemned Venezuela’s decision to expel and declare Spain’s Ambassador to Caracas “persona non grata.”
Measures 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”, they said in a resolution approved by 480 votes to 51 with 70 abstentions.
MEPs also condemned Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly’s decision to call early presidential elections by the end of April 2018, pointing 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.”
“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,” the MEPs said.
Parliament also called on Venezuelan authorities “to allow unimpeded humanitarian aid into the country as a matter of urgency.”
The United States has already imposed restrictions, such as asset freezes, on Maduro and US firms are prohibited from doing business with him.
Venezuela has been looking at its options as sanctions bite, meanwhile, and it is also reportedly planning to launch its own oil and gas-backed cryptocurrency called the petro.