Canada targets senior Venezuelan officials with sanctions

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
President Nicolas Maduro is top of the sanctions list

Canada will impose sanctions against senior members of the Venezuelan government over their "anti-democratic behaviour".

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is among the 40 people who will have their assets frozen, and Canadians will be banned from doing business with them.

Canada's foreign minister said the country "will not stand by silently" amid the country's ongoing crisis.

The move follows a similar action by the United States in August.

Venezuela has been hit by waves of anti-government protests this year in which more than a hundred people have been killed.

US economic sanctions targeting the government were imposed after the formation of a controversial constituent's assembly at the start of last month.

The assembly is filled with pro-government supporters and has assumed the powers of the opposition-held parliament.

Critics say the body is a way for President Maduro to cling to power, and the US, EU, and many Latin American countries do not recognise it.

Canada said the 40 people targeted by its sanctions were "the people responsible for the deterioration of democracy" and warned of Venezuela's "deepening descent into dictatorship".

As well as President Maduro, the named figures include Vice-President Tareck El Aissami and the head of the constituent assembly, Delcy Rodriguez.

Media caption,
At least half of the country's children are malnourished

"Today's announcement of sanctions against the Maduro regime underscores our commitment to defending democracy and human rights around the world," said Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign affairs minister.

"Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Venezuela as they struggle to restore democracy in their country."

Ms Freeland told Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper she would be hosting a meeting of the Lima group - a bloc of 12 countries focusing on the crisis - in the next 60 days.

Venezuela's crisis has led to widespread food and medicine shortages, prompting President Maduro to encourage citizens to breed rabbits for meat.