The Council of the European Union announced Thursday an extended sanction regime against Venezuela for one year, until November 14, 2021.
The decision comes in light of the “ongoing political, economic, social, and humanitarian crisis” in the country. The Council originally imposed sanctions in November 2017 following allegations of dozens of Venezuelan officials “undermining democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.” As such, the sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes on the 36 officials responsible. The Council added 11 officials to the sanctions list in June 2020. The measure also includes an “embargo on arms and on equipment for internal repression [of Venezuelan citizens].”
In particular, the 2018 presidential election wreaked havoc on the country, with the EU considering it “neither free, fair, nor credible.” Despite global condemnation of an alleged rigged election, Nicolás Maduro illegally claimed the presidency by manipulating the electoral process and timeline to his advantage. Maduro began his second presidential term in January 2019 following the election in May 2018. The EU asserts that the election and its outcome “lacked any credibility as the electoral process did not ensure the necessary guarantees for inclusive and democratic elections.”
More than three million people have fled the country since 2015, as the socio-economic and political crisis severely impacted citizens, who are faced with hyperinflation, food shortages, COVID-19 outbreaks and a lack of access to basic services.
In its statement, the Council said that the sanction measures are “intended to help encourage democratic shared solutions in order to bring political stability to the country and allow it to address the pressing needs of the population.” The Council has been involved with the crisis for years and has dedicated over €60 million to meet citizens’ urgent needs since 2016.
In October, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to continue investigating human rights abuses within the country.