EU extends Venezuela sanctions for a year

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union said Thursday that it is prolonging sanctions against dozens of Venezuelan officials for another year over allegations that they are undermining democracy in the crisis-wracked country or are linked to rights abuses there.

The move means that travel bans and asset freezes against 36 people will remain in place until Nov. 14, 2021. The EU has also imposed an arms embargo on Venezuela and outlawed the supply of equipment that could be used in any crackdown on civilians.

“The decision was taken in light of the ongoing political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, with persistent actions undermining democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights,” EU headquarters said in a statement.

It said the measures are targeted at officials in the regime of President Nicolás Maduro and not meant to harm the Venezuelan people.

Once a wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis, which critics blame on two decades of failed socialist policies that have left the nation bankrupt and its infrastructure crumbling. Maduro says he is under attack from Washington, which wants to oust him from power.

The EU and Washington back opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who claimed presidential powers in early 2019 as head of the National Assembly. A coalition of more than 50 nations recognize him, saying Maduro clings to power after an undemocratic election.

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