19:44 GMT +309 December 2019
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    Pro-Maduro protest in Caracas against US sanctions

    US 'Wide-Ranging, Unilateral Sanctions' May Deny 'Fundamental' Rights to Millions of Venezuelans—UN

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    The high-ranking diplomat said that she was “deeply worried” about the potentially severe effects of the Trump administration’s “unilateral sanctions” imposed earlier this week.

    A top United Nations official has slammed the Trump administration’s latest round of sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, stating that the measures could further cripple the human rights of ordinary citizens and damage security within Latin America, a statement from the Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner said on Thursday.

    Michelle Bachelet, UN human rights chief, said the sanctions were “extremely broad” and failed to contain “sufficient measures to mitigate their impact on the most vulnerable sectors of the population, Mrs Bachelet said, adding that they would have “far-reaching implications" on Venezuelans’ right to health and food already troubled by “serious shortages of essential goods”.

    She added that sanctions had contracted the Venezuelan economy by 47.6 percent between 2013 to 2018, according to official figures, and that she was concerned that businesses would “completely halt transactions rather than risk being punished for doing business with Caracas.

    August 2017 and January 2019 have worsened problems for the Latin American country, she said, as most of the country’s foreign exchange earnings are linked to oil exports, namely in the US market [via US oil and gas company Citgo].

    Whilst the latest sanctions did not “technically” apply to humanitarian relief items such as “food, clothing and medicine”, she said that the sanctions would “significantly exacerbate” the crisis.

    She said: “However, they are still likely to significantly exacerbate the crisis for millions of ordinary Venezuelans, especially as there will certainly be over-compliance by financial institutions around the world that have commercial relations with the governments of the US and Venezuela.

    The Trump administration’s “wide-ranging unilateral sanctions” would could end up denying the “fundamental human rights” of Venezuelans as well as block those delivering humanitarian assistance to the embattled country.

    “Even carefully targeted sanctions must be subject to stringent human rights safeguards,” she added.

    Mrs Bachelet urged the international community to find a political solution to the crisis to put the “interests and human rights of the long-suffering" Venezuelans “above all else”.

    The news comes as Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro vowed to submit a letter to the United Nations decrying sanctions from the Trump administration. The letter, signed by millions of Venezuelans, would be delivered to UN secretary-general António Guterres amid US president Donald Trump’s hardline stance towards Caracas.

    Protests are set to take place on Saturday condemning US violations of human rights following Mr Trump’s latest executive order aimed at freezing Venezuelan assets held in the United States in a bid to install US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

    President Trump, who has threatened to impose an economic blockade on Venezuela, joins a list of US presidents imposing sanctions on Caracas since Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) launched a series of reforms and nationalised assets from US companies since 1999, sparking anger from Washington.

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    Tags:
    human rights, Citgo, Nicolas Maduro, Donald Trump, US sanctions, US sanctions on Venezuela, Venezuela crisis, Venezuela
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