UN rights chief decries latest US sanctions targeting Venezuela

‘Extremely broad’ measures could increase suffering in the country, says Michelle Bachelet

People walk past graffiti reading ‘Down with Trump’ in Caracas, Venezuela. Photograph: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

On Aug, 9, 2019 by www.theguardian.com

The UN rights chief has intensified criticism of US sanctions targeting Venezuela, condemning the latest measures as “extremely broad” with the potential to exacerbate suffering among an already vulnerable population.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has raised concern about previous sanctions imposed by Washington against the government of the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro.

In the latest measures, Donald Trump’s administration ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the US and barred transactions with its authorities.

“I am deeply worried about the potentially severe impact on the human rights of the people of Venezuela of the new set of unilateral sanctions imposed by the US this week,” Bachelet said in a statement on Thursday.

“The sanctions are extremely broad and fail to contain sufficient measures to mitigate their impact on the most vulnerable sectors of the population.”

Bachelet, a former president of Chile, noted that the sanctions included exceptions for transactions related to certain food, clothing and medicine.

“However, they are still likely to significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans,” she said.

Venezuela – wracked by a devastating economic crisis despite vast oil wealth – has been mired in a political impasse since January when Juan Guaidó, the speaker of the national assembly, proclaimed himself acting president.

He is now recognised as Venezuela’s leader by more than 50 countries, including the US.

Bachelet has criticised Maduro’s government, notably over its violent crackdown on protests, but stressed that previous US sanctions imposed in 2017 and in January this year had made the “dire crisis” in Venezuela even worse.