EU Bans Arms Sales to Venezuela

Iran News - - INTERNATIONAL -

BRUS­SELS (AP) - The Euro­pean Union on Mon­day banned arms sales to Venezuela and set up a sys­tem to slap as­set freezes and travel re­stric­tions on Venezue­lan of­fi­cials as it sought to ramp up pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro.

The move was de­cided by EU for­eign min­is­ters at talks in Brus­sels. The weapons ban would stop sales of mil­i­tary equip­ment that could be used for re­pres­sion or sur­veil­lance of Venezue­lans.

“These mea­sures will be used in a grad­ual and flex­i­ble man­ner and can be ex­panded, by tar­get­ing those in­volved in the non-re­spect of demo­cratic prin­ci­ples or the rule of law and the vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights,” the min­is­ters said in a state­ment.

They said the sanc­tions could be re­versed de­pend­ing on how Maduro re­acts to the de­mands for more democ­racy in the South Amer­i­can na­tion and the re­lease of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

The United States last Thurs­day put fi­nan­cial sanc­tions on an­other 10 cur­rent and for­mer Venezue­lan of­fi­cials over cor­rup­tion and abuse of power al­le­ga­tions re­lated to Maduro’s crack­down on the op­po­si­tion.

Venezuela’s gov­ern­ment has faced in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism since the coun­try’s Supreme Court gut­ted pow­ers of the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled congress in March. The rul­ing was later re­versed, but a new con­sti­tu­tional assem­bly com­posed en­tirely of gov­ern­ment loy­al­ists has claimed supreme power and has gone af­ter Maduro’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

The coun­try’s oil-de­pen­dent econ­omy spi­raled into cri­sis af­ter world oil prices be­gan a plunge in 2014, and it has been hit fur­ther by the U.S. sanc­tions.

In Septem­ber, the U.N.’s hu­man rights chief said that Venezuela’s se­cu­rity forces may have com­mit­ted “crimes against hu­man­ity” in deal­ing with pro­test­ers, and called for an in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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