EU Agrees to Impose Sanctions on Venezuela
November 9, 2017
On 8 November the international press reported that the 28 members of the European Union Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) has agreed that the European Union (EU) should impose economic sanctions on the Venezuelan government led by President Nicolás Maduro over its latest political repression measures.
Significance: If confirmed the imposition of economic sanctions by the EU will intensify the already-considerable international pressure on the Maduro government to abandon its increasingly authoritarian measures. With the Maduro government and the ruling Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) showing no signs of scaling back its efforts to undermine any form of political dissent, the speculation is that Venezuela is now on course to become a pariah state.
- The Coreper – which groups the heads of mission of the 28 EU member states and is tasked with setting the agenda of the EU Council, the union’s main executive body – held its periodic meeting on 6 November. According to the international press, during the meeting the EU heads of mission discussed the deteriorating political situation in Venezuela and they unanimously agreed to recommend the imposition of EU economic sanctions on the Maduro government to deter it from continuing on its authoritarian course.
- Unnamed EU sources told the Spanish media that the Coreper agreed to propose that the EU Council impose sanctions including an arms embargo and the banning of the export to Venezuela of any materials that could be used for “internal repression or to monitor electronic communications”. The sources also said that the Coreper agreed that there are now are “legal bases” for the EU to blacklist any Venezuelan government officials considered to be responsible for the deterioration of the political situation in the country, which would lead to the freezing of their assets held in EU jurisdictions, “if the evolution of the situation requires it”.
- The reports on the Coreper meeting coincided with the approval of a new ‘law against hate’ by the national constituent assembly (ANC) convened by the Maduro government, which is seen as being inherently repressive. The new law approved by the ANC calls for anyone that “promotes fascism, hate, or intolerance” to be punished with up to 20 years in prison; while any media outlet guilty of breaking the law will face hefty fines and any political party that does the same will immediately lose its legal status. The law also says that any government officials with prosecutorial responsibility that do not prosecute individuals accused of breaking the new law can be punished with up to 10 years in prison themselves.
Looking Ahead: The Colegio Nacional de Periodistas de Venezuela (CNP) main local journalists’ association has already warned that the new law “will only legitimise [government] censorship and criminalise [differing] opinion…in an affront to freedom of expression”. This may end up convincing the EU Council that the imposition of sanctions against the Maduro government is now necessary.
This feature was provided to EMIA by our editorial partner LatinNews.