Last updated: November 13, 2017 at 9:41 am
The European Union is banning arms sales to Venezuela and setting up a system for asset freezes and travel restrictions on some Venezuelan officials.
The EU foreign ministers announced the measures at talks in Brussels earlier today.
The move is designed to ramp up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, who has faced a year of violent protests and accusations he is eroding democracy across the country.
The weapons ban would stop sales of military equipment that could be used for repression or surveillance of Venezuelans.
The EU said in a statement that the measures can be reversed depending how Maduro reacts to the demands for more democracy in the South American nation.
The United States last Thursday put financial sanctions on another 10 current and former Venezuelan officials over corruption and abuse of power allegations related to Maduro’s crackdown on the opposition.
Only yesterday the under-pressure Venezuelan president insisted that his cash-strapped country would “never” default, as he prepared to meet with creditors in Caracas to discuss rescheduling part of the country’s massive $150 billion debt.
“Never, a default will never reach Venezuela,” he declared on his weekly television show.
“Our strategy is to renegotiate and refinance all the debt.”
Maduro pointed to ongoing negotiations with his allies China and Russia, to which Venezuela owes, respectively, US$28 billion and US$8 billion.