U.S. Leads Charge to Punish Venezuela’s Leaders, and Raps Europe’s Reluctance

Uruguay voted against the measure, Trinidad and Tobago abstained and Cuba was absent.

“We know that exceptional situations require exceptional responses,” said Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo of Brazil. He said the crisis in Venezuela “includes clear and growing elements that threaten peace and the security of our region.”

The treaty allows for additional diplomatic pressure and economic punishment to be brought against violators, such as those implicated in organized crime. It also opens the door to a possible military response, although American officials maintain that is not currently being considered, and the Venezuelan opposition’s official for foreign affairs, Julio Borges, said on Monday that the process needed to advance “step by step.”

President Trump will lead a meeting on Venezuela at the United Nations on Wednesday, in his most visible step in the United States’ pressure campaign against Mr. Maduro. The effort has included multiple rounds of sanctions; support for the claim of the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, to be interim president; and most recently, attempts to convince Europe to intensify its own sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s loyalists.

European officials had pledged to expand the economic punishment against Mr. Maduro’s government after political talks brokered by Norway collapsed last week. One senior American official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy frankly, said Monday that new European sanctions were not expected until sometime in October at the earliest.

European officials were likely to move first to use sanctions to punish Mr. Maduro for human rights violations, stemming from the June death of a Venezuelan Navy captain who was accused of plotting a rebellion.

The United States and a vast majority of Latin American nations are also pushing for the freezing of bank accounts and other assets that Mr. Maduro’s loyalists have in Europe, where the senior American official said some have moved their families to live comfortably — and far from the perilous conditions in Venezuela.

Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, a senior diplomat from Spain, said Europe was still considering issuing new sanctions against Venezuela on the grounds of human rights violations for the death of the navy captain, whose lawyers accused the government of torture.

As to the broader sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s loyalists and their assets in Europe, “it will depend on the situation and how it evolves,” Mr. de Laiglesia said in an interview.


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