European Union hits 11 more Venezuelans with sanctions

Diosdado Cabello, a high-ranking official in the Nicolas Maduro administration, was sanctioned by the European Union earlier this year.
Diosdado Cabello, a high-ranking official in the Nicolas Maduro administration, was sanctioned by the European Union earlier this year. AP

The European Union hit 11 Venezuelan officials with sanctions Monday, as the South American country continues to face condemnation over the snap presidential election last month that handed President Nicolás Maduro a new six-year term.

Among those who will now face having their assets frozen and a travel ban in the E.U. are Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and former Vice President Tareck El-Aissami.

The E.U. said that El-Aissami, as the former vice president of Venezuela with oversight of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, “is responsible for the serious human rights violations carried out by the organization, including arbitrary detention, politically motivated investigations, inhumane and degrading treatment, and torture.”

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Rodriguez, for her part, had “undermined democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela” as president of the “illegitimate” National Constituent Assembly, the E.U. found.

The European Union is Venezuela’s third largest trading partner behind the United States and China, and has joined the growing list of countries that are turning the screws on the nation.

The latest round of sanctions comes after Maduro pushed through elections on May 20 that the E.U., the United States and more than a dozen Latin American nations denounced as being illegitimate.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry fired back, saying the E.U.'s "flagrant subordination" to Washington was "surprising."

"The European Union is acting against the political peace in Venezuela when it meddles in internal affairs and insists on applying coercive measures that go against peace and dialogue between Venezuelans," the ministry said.

Since 2015, Venezuela has been hit by sanctions from the United States, Switzerland, Panama and the 28 members of the European Union. The Maduro administration has said that U.S. financial sanctions, in particular, are hurting its ability to import food and medicine and exacerbating the country’s growing humanitarian crisis. While Canada, Panama and the United States have all sanctioned Maduro himself, the European Union has refrained.

In November, the European Union agreed to ban the export of weapons and other items that might be used to subdue protests. Opposition demonstrations in 2017 left more than 100 dead.

Among those sanctioned by the E.U. Monday are: Sergio José Rivero, the inspector general of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces; Jesús Rafael Suárez, the general commander of the Bolivarian Army; Iván Hernández, the head head of Military Counter-Intelligence; Elias Jaua, the minister of education; Sandra Oblitas, the vice president of the National Electoral Council; Freddy Bernal, a high-ranking member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela; Katherine Nayarith Harrington, deputy prosecutor general; Socorro Elizabeth Hernández, a member of the National Electoral Council and Xavier Antonio Moreno Reyes, the secretary general of the National Electoral Council.