17 Jun 2019
AP — Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country’s crisis, The Associated Press has learned.
The financial and travel restrictions are being mulled by a core group of five nations — U.K., France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands — before being proposed to the European Council, said diplomats and members of the Venezuelan opposition with knowledge of the plan.
A total of five sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly.
While Maduro is among a dozen officials who could be hit with sanctions, no final decision has been made, two people said. The group still needs to breach internal divisions before making a formal proposal to the EU’s executive branch.
Greater consensus exists for punishing top members of the armed forces and judiciary who have been instrumental in the arrest of allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, whose family is believed to live in Spain. Also on the list is Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez, a top Maduro aide and envoy to talks with the opposition sponsored by Norway, and Jorge Márquez, who is head of the powerful communications regulator which was responsible for pulling the plug on Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 and Britain’s BBC earlier this year.
Steady progress is being made on building a solid legal case for the restrictions, but the main obstacle is the uncertain impact it could have on a mediation effort by Norway between representatives of Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the sources added.
“Our priority is not to impose new sanctions. But neither is it to relax pressure on members of the Venezuelan government,” said a Spanish foreign ministry official. “The primary focus at the moment is the dialogue in Norway.”
By Joshua Goodman and Aritz Parra, AP, 15 June 2019
Read more at the Associated Press
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