MADRID – The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said he believed that Europe was dragging its feet in the Venezuelan crisis and stated that the European Union should follow the path set by the United States and impose sanctions on the South American country.
Tajani made the case for tougher sanctions against members of the Venezuelan government in an article released on Wednesday.
“Last August, the United States applied economic sanctions, froze assets and banned transactions with President Nicolas Maduro and top Venezuelan officials,” wrote Tajani. “Europe, however, is dragging its feet when it should follow that example, imposing individual and selective measures against those responsible for the current repression.”
According to Tajani, “even the NGO Human Rights Watch has publicly asked that sanctions be imposed, because there can be no impunity for those with no respect for democracy or human rights.”
Tajani, a member of the center-right European People’s Party – the largest in the chamber –, urged the international community to act against what he called the “Venezuelan dictatorship” because it was “bad for the country, bad for its neighbors, bad for the continent and bad for the whole world.”
The EP head said that Venezuela was going through an unprecedented political, institutional, social, economic and humanitarian crisis; in response, President Maduro had “violated the sacred principle of the separation of powers” instead of listening to his people.
In Tajani’s view, Maduro was “making his authoritarian regime ironclad – we shouldn’t be afraid to say it – in order to enforce a dictatorship.”
“Yes, establishing a National Constituent Assembly and usurping the authority of the National Assembly, the only legitimate representative of the will of the people after winning the December 2015 elections, is precisely what a dictatorial regime does,” Tajani added.
Because of this, he continued, “the world cannot keep its eyes closed to what is happening in Venezuela. We need the courage to take decisions that spearhead a change to democracy.”
“Censuring the dictatorship is all very well but taking action to change it is so much better,” Tajani said.
In this respect, the EP was planning to hold a conference on democracy in Venezuela before the end of the year to “lend a voice to all those persecuted by the regime.”
The conference would include not only the opposition, but also those who “follow Chavismo ideologically but have denounced the dictatorial ways of President Maduro,” such as the former attorney general, Luisa Ortega.
Finally, Tajani reminded readers that in October, the EP is set to concede the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which among its candidates included the Venezuelan opposition, represented by the National Assembly and its president, Julio Borges, as well as what he called “political prisoners” such as the former mayor of Chacao, Leopoldo Lopez.