Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday that Ottawa is talking with partners to find ways of expanding sanctions against Venezuelan senior officials, Reuters reported.
“We have put many of the senior leaders in the Maduro regime on our sanctions list. We are discussing with our partners now ways that that sanctions list can be expanded in order to have even more bite”, Freeland was quoted as saying by Reuters on a call from a Bogota meeting about the Venezuelan crisis. However, the Canadian foreign minister did not comment on any further details.
According to Freeland, Canada and Lima Group countries should “stand together in support of a peaceful transition to democracy” in the Latin American country.
Freeland said in early February that Canada has “absolutely” ruled out military intervention in Venezuela. By contrast, US officials have repeatedly said that all options are on the table regarding the crisis in Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the Lima Group said in the final statement on Monday that the transition to “democracy” must be performed by Venezuelans themselves, without the use of force and in line with the country’s constitution. The participants in the meeting in Bogota also said that they would turn directly to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, so that he could use his powers to mobilize the organization to help resolve the situation in Venezuela.
Moreover, the group has decided to contribute to the appointment of an independent expert or commission by the UN Human Rights Council in order to investigate the situation in Venezuela in relation to the alleged grave human rights violations in the country.
The Lima Group comprises 14 member states, the majority of which have been critical of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s self-proclaimed interim leader.
On 23 January, Guaido, the leader of the opposition-led Venezuelan National Assembly, proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela after he contested the results of the election last year, in which Maduro was re-elected for a second term.
Canada, the United States and many of their allies, particularly European Union members, have voiced support and recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and several other countries have said that the constitutionally elected Maduro is the legitimate president of Venezuela and demanded that other countries respect the principle of non-interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
The United States has imposed numerous rounds of sanctions on Venezuela. In January, Washington blocked around $7 billion in assets belonging to Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA. Maduro said that the restrictions were tantamount to illegal seizure. Earlier on Monday, the US Treasury Department sanctioned four Venezuelan governors.
US Vice President Mike Pence said in Colombia on Monday that the Trump administration is planning to announce new sanctions against Venezuelan authorities in coming days.