European court rejected on Friday (20) the Venezuelan government's appeal against the sanctions regime adopted in 2017 by the European Union (EU), in reprisal for the human rights situation in the country.
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The Luxembourg-based court gave reason to the EU Council, the institution responsible for imposing sanctions, which dismissed Caracas's claim as inadmissible.
In November 2017, the EU adopted the first sanctions package, which banned European companies from exporting weapons and equipment that could be used for internal repression in Venezuela.
At the February hearing, EU Council representative Petra Mahnic claimed that the sanctions adopted responded "to the deterioration of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Venezuela".
The measures were taken after the deaths of 125 people in four months of opposition protests,
Nicolás Maduro's government appealed in February 2018 against the sanctions regime, claiming that his right to be heard was violated, the decision was not properly justified and that there are errors of appreciation of the facts.
For Caracas, sanctions are "illegal countermeasures under customary international law," according to the appeal.
Without considering the merits of the appeal, the court dismissed the claim after examining the grounds of inadmissibility defended by the EU Council, including that the "contested provisions do not directly affect" Caracas.
"At most, they can have indirect effects, as bans on entities in EU countries may limit the sources from which Venezuela may seek products and services," the ruling said.
Venezuela became in 2017 the first Latin American country to be sanctioned by the EU. In addition to the arms embargo, Europeans froze assets and banned visas for 18 government officials in 2018.
The General Court is yet to rule on appeals by 10 of 18 officials against individual measures, including Vice-President of the Venezuelan government, Delcy Rodríguez.
Soldiers attend military parade to commemorate the 208th anniversary of Venezuela's Independence in Caracas, July 2019 – Photo: Miraflores Palace / Handout via Reuters
Europeans are criticized for opposing the Venezuelan government because they do not increase the pressure on President Nicolás Maduro at the same level as the United States, which has frozen even Venezuelan assets.
Visiting Brussels, US Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, called on the EU last week to impose sanctions on more Venezuelan authorities and criticized its strategy.
"The EU has sanctioned 18 Venezuelan regime figures," said the US official, who said "a much larger number of people in the regime are using Europe as a kind of tourist complex."
The Europeans avoided imposing sanctions on the economic sectors, not to worsen the humanitarian crisis in the country, nor to punish President Maduro for not closing diplomatic channels.
In addition to sanctions, the EU launched in February with Latin American and European countries the International Contact Group (GCI), an initiative that seeks "free and fair" presidential elections in Venezuela.
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Putin's government has been one of Maduro's biggest supporters, with loans and aid to the Venezuelan army and the country's oil and gas industry.