The European Union has banned arms sales to Venezuela, the Council of the European Union said Monday.
“In addition to its political and diplomatic efforts in support of a peaceful negotiated way out of the political crisis, the Council has today decided by unanimity to adopt restrictive measures, underscoring its concerns with the situation in the country. These consist of an embargo on arms and on related material that might be used for internal repression, as well as a legal framework for a travel ban and assets freeze,” the statement read.
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According to Reuters, EU foreign ministers adopted the new measures against Venezuela without debate at a regular meeting. The bloc’s member-states stopped short of sanctioning individuals in order to prevent Venezuela from plunging into a deeper economic crisis, according to Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso. However, more sanctions could be imposed on Caracas in future, according to a statement.
The adoption of the embargo comes in the wake of regional elections in the Latin American nation that saw the victory of Maduro’s ruling Socialists and the defeat of the opposition amid “reported numerous irregularities,” according to a EU statement.
The EU sanctions were adopted two months after the US slapped Caracas with sweeping sanctions that prohibit American financial institutions from providing money to the Venezuelan government and its state-run oil company.
Venezuela has been in a state of political turmoil since spring, when the country’s socialist-dominated Supreme Court attempted to restrict the power of the legislature, where opposition candidates had won a majority in late 2016. This internationally-condemned move was reversed within a week, but not before sparking popular protests. Clashes between the government and pro-opposition protesters led to 120 deaths.
The Venezuelan government used these protests as an excuse to convene a new assembly tasked with re-writing the constitution, where approximately a third of all candidates were selected by groups such as trade unions and student unions, which were loyal to Maduro’s party. The opposition boycotted the election and all 545 seats of the Constituent Assembly were held by socialist government loyalists. The Constituent Assembly shares its name with the Bolshevik legislature that was convened following Russia’s October Revolution in 1917.