Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States, says Venezuelan sanctions targeting oil industry would be in response to the South American country’s repressive political climate. El Comercio photo.
Proposed Venezuelan sanctions on oil industry would escalate financial pressure
Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), says Venezuelan sanctions should be stepped up to include the country’s struggling oil industry, according to a report by Reuters.
Currently, sanctions against the OPEC member’s repressive political climate are focussed on individual members of the government as well as a ban on buying new Venezuelan debt.
Almagro told a Geneva human rights forum on Tuesday that “sanctions have to become harsher, this is the way to move forward. Those against dictatorship should unite.”
Under President Nicolas Maduro, the “dictatorship has become more tyrannical,” and the people of Venezuela are suffering through dire shortages of food and medicine, says Almagro.
“We must apply sanctions, harsher ones. We must starve the regime financially.”
Should Venezuelan sanctions include the country’s oil industry, greater financial pressure would weigh heavily on the beleaguered nation. Almagro told Reuters “the sanctions should be not only personal sanctions, but sanctions also against the regime itself.”
“That makes it necessary of course to target oil production, it makes it necessary to target the family of the dictators, it makes it necessary to target money-laundering,” Almagro told Reuters.
Maduro is up for re-election in April. Opposition leaders plan to boycott the vote and critics call the election a farce as Maduro’s main rivals are barred from running.
Reuters reports Maduro denies these claims, and says the OAS is a pawn of US policy.
Irwin Cotler, a former minister of justice in Canada who now serves on an OAS panel tasked with investigating crimes against humanity in Venezuela, says “We are witnessing a dismantling of democracy, an assault on the rule of law and on the independence of the judiciary”.
“We heard compelling witness testimony and we received documentary evidence of extrajudicial executions and widespread systematic attacks on civilians as a matter of state policy,” Reuters reports Cotler told the forum.
Cotler cited cases of torture, rape and arbitrary detention and right’s groups say over 125 people died in anti-government protests last year.
The Venezuelan government dismisses these reports of rights abuses as baseless.
The panel’s report will be released next month.
Two weeks ago, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the US was closer to a decision on imposing sanctions against the Venezuelan oil industry.
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