BRUSSELS – European leaders called on Monday for new presidential elections in Venezuela, saying they will "quickly" impose a new round of sanctions against those close to President Nicolás Maduro
Despite widespread calls for a return to democratic government, Venezuelan elections showed that the country was deviating from the constitutional order, said the European Union's foreign ministers.
The threat from the EU's foreign ministers provoked a reaction from Maduro, who said that and more sanctions will only hurt the Venezuelans even more.
"This is the European Union that arrogantly wants to stick its nose in Venezuela's businesses," said Maduro. "Enough of this old colonialism"
Maduro won a second six-year term on May 20, which his closest rival described as illegitimate and Venezuela's main opposition parties boycotted as fraudulent.
The United States and a Dozen Neighboring Countries in Latin America The countries also rejected the vote, accusing the Maduro government of forbidding the main opposition parties to participate and use massive bribes to attract votes from the poor.
Venezuela was once one of the richest countries in Latin America, sitting on top of the world's largest oil reserves. The poor management and a recent fall in world oil prices have left it in an increasingly marked economic and political crisis, marked by the shortage of food and medicines and massive migration.
The United States has already sanctioned 70 Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, accusing them of turning the once-democratic nation into an authoritarian regime.
European leaders have said that elections more than a week ago were fatally flawed and want to do so again "in accordance with internationally recognized democratic standards".
Any new European sanctions will add those who already impose economic and travel sanctions against Maduro and several of his lieutenants.
The EU's foreign ministers said they will carefully draw up sanctions aimed at the Venezuelan authorities, aimed at alleviating the plight of the daily Venezuelan people.
"The EU will act quickly, in accordance with established procedures, with the aim of imposing additional restrictions directed and reversible measures that do not harm the Venezuelan population," they said.
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