TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Diplomatic sources said Thursday that new sanctions would be imposed on seven senior Venezuela officials over their alleged role in rights abuses committed against opponents since a new wave of anti-government protests erupted in the South American country last year.
The officials include Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, Supreme Court president Maikel Moreno, National Intelligence Director Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez as well as Diosdado Cabello, the number two in President Nicolas Maduro's ruling socialist party.
Back in November, the EU slapped sanctions on Venezuela, including an embargo on weapons and equipment that could be used against opponents. The new sanctions are the first to target individuals within Maduro’s government.
An EU official said the 28-member bloc “agreed on new listings ... in view of the situation in Venezuela.”
However, EU foreign ministers are to formally approve the new sanctions in their upcoming meeting on Monday.
European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray declined to comment on the new decision, but said that the EU was “always in full support” of efforts to find a negotiated solution to the political standoff in Venezuela, where the opposition has led street protests against Maduro in the past months over an acute economic crisis that has led to a fall in living standards in the oil-rich country.
Maduro’s government maintains the protests, which cost the lives of 125 people last year, are meant to undermine the rule of law in the country and are backed by certain foreign powers.
Maduro accuses the opposition of capitalizing on economic woes of Venezuela, which he says are directly linked to a slump in the global oil prices, to topple his government.
The Venezuelan president sent his government representatives to a new round of talks with the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable in the Dominican Republic on Thursday, in a bid to find a negotiated settlement.