The European Union has moved forward with imposing a series of new sanctions on the Venezuelan government, including a ban on arms sales and the export of military and surveillance equipment.
A statement released by the 28-member bloc said, “The council has today decided by unanimity to adopt restrictive measures, underscoring its concerns with the situation in the country.”
Without convening a debate to determine if sanctions should be imposed, EU foreign ministers agreed that the Venezuelan government is responsible for stirring up political turmoil in the country. Contrary to 70 international observers who attested to the veracity of last month's regional elections, EU representatives said they took place amid “reported numerous irregularities” and described the poll results as “surprising,” according to PressTV.
While the new sanctions do not target any Venezuelan citizen, the EU warned that such measures “will be used in a gradual and flexible manner and can be expanded,” if need be.
Ahead of the vote, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced the sanctions, advising the EU to support dialogue instead of unilateral measures.
Despite talks taking place between the Venezuelan government and representatives of the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity Table, Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said that the new sanctions are “aimed at seeking dialogue between the government and the opposition to find a democratic and peaceful solution.”
In fact, Dominican President Danilo Medina, who is acting as mediator, and Spain’s former president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero initiated the talks in September, while twelve other Latin American nations expressed their support for the dialogues taking place in the Dominican Republic.
The EU sanctions also run counter to calls made by Pope Francis who has consistently advocated dialogue and a peaceful solution to Venezuela's internal conflict.