0953 GMT February 28, 2021
In a statement posted on Twitter, Arreaza said the EU’s move was a sign the bloc was frustrated by the ineffectiveness of its actions to force a change of government in Venezuela, according to Reuters.
The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on 19 senior Venezuelan officials, lawmakers and members of the security forces in response to December’s legislative election that the bloc claimed was rigged in favor of President Nicolas Maduro.
Allies of Maduro won almost all of the legislature’s seats in a vote that was also disavowed by the United States.
EU foreign ministers approved the sanctions on Monday, taking the number of Venezuelans blacklisted by the bloc to 55.
Like the United States, the EU has escalated sanctions on Maduro over the past two years, arguing that his 2018 reelection was a sham, though the measures have yet to achieve their stated aim of bringing about new presidential election.
“The individuals added to the list are responsible ... for undermining the opposition’s electoral rights and the democratic functioning of the National Assembly, and for serious violations of human rights and restrictions of fundamental freedoms,” the EU said in a statement.
Those sanctioned included two lawmakers of what the EU called the non-democratically elected National Assembly: Bernabe Gutierrez and Jose Brito, who are recognized by Venezuela’s government as leaders of two opposition parties.
The parties have disavowed Gutierrez and Brito, saying they are collaborating with the government.
The EU also sanctioned Omar Prieto, governor of the state of Zulia, Remigio Ceballos Ichaso, the armed forces operational commander, and three officials of the Electoral Council, including its president, Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre.
The sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, also targeted Supreme Court justices and marked a toughening of the EU’s approach by targeting political leaders who describe themselves as opposition members but are seen as being allied to Maduro.
Once a wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is now mired in a deep economic crisis. Maduro says that Venezuela’s economic situation is the result of US sanctions that have crippled the OPEC member’s oil exports and prevented it from importing fuel.
He says he is under attack from the United States, which wants to oust him from power.