FT | EU steps up pressure on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro

Bloc threatens further sanctions if talks with
opposition remain fruitless | Michael Stott

EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the warning was a response to a recent UN report that found the Maduro regime guilty of widespread human rights atrocities including extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearances | Reuters

The EU has stepped up diplomatic pressure on President Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela, saying it will impose further sanctions on Caracas if no progress is made in slow-moving talks with opposition representatives.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the warning was a response to a recent UN report that found the Maduro regime guilty of widespread human rights atrocities including extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearances.

“The EU is ready to start work towards applying targeted measures for those members of the security forces involved in torture and other serious violations of human rights,” Ms Mogherini said in a statement.

“In case there are no concrete results from the ongoing negotiations, the EU will further expand its targeted measures.”

Representatives of the Maduro government are holding on-off talks with a team representing Juan Guaidó, the national assembly president who has gained partial international backing for his claim to be the legitimate leader.

The talks are being brokered by Norway, which has experience in the region having played a key role in Colombia’s historic peace agreement in 2016 between the government and Marxist rebels.

The two sides in the Venezuelan crisis have already met three times — twice in Oslo and once in Barbados — without apparently making much progress. They are meeting again this week in Barbados.

Mr Guaidó says Mr Maduro won power on the basis of bogus elections and has demanded that any agreement must include his exit from the presidency.

The EU said the Norwegian-brokered talks “should remain the main channel to overcome the crisis”, although it also said it would continue to push for a solution via the International Contact Group, which is made up of a handful of EU and Latin American nations.

Until now, the EU has imposed only limited sanctions on 18 individuals linked to the Maduro regime, along with an arms embargo to prevent Caracas buying weapons.

That contrasts with the far tougher line of the US, which has placed financial sanctions on 115 individuals, revoked the visas of hundreds more and imposed an oil embargo on the Opec nation while also restricting Venezuelan access to US financial markets.

A diplomatic source in Caracas said the EU had prepared a “significantly bigger” list of individuals connected to the Maduro regime for possible sanctions if the Barbados talks failed to produce results, but declined to give an exact number.

European powers remain opposed to the use of broader financial sanctions, as imposed by the US, for fear of worsening Venezuela’s already dire humanitarian crisis.

Bron: Financial Times

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