Canada will impose targeted sanctions against 40 Venezuelan senior officials, including President Nicolás Maduro, to punish them for “anti-democratic behavior,” the foreign ministry announced. Canada’s move, which followed a similar decision by the United States, came after months of protests against Maduro’s government in which at least 130 people have been killed.
Critics say he has plunged the nation into its worst-ever economic crisis and brought it to the brink of dictatorship.
“Canada will not stand by silently as the government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic rights,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.
The measures include freezing the assets of the officials and banning Canadians from having any dealings with them. The actions were “in response to the government of Venezuela’s deepening descent into dictatorship,” Canada said.
Maduro has said he faces an armed insurrection designed to end socialism in Latin America and let a U.S.-backed business elite get its hands on the OPEC nation’s crude reserves. The United States imposed sanctions on Maduro in late July and has also targeted around 30 other officials.
The Canadian measures name Maduro, Vice President Tareck El Aissami and 38 other people, including the ministers of defense and the interior as well as several Supreme Court judges.
Canada is a member of the 12-nation Lima Group, which is trying to address the Venezuelan crisis. A government official said Freeland wanted to host a meeting of the group within the next 60 days.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday he believed there was a chance for a political solution.
“This is a situation that is obviously untenable. The violence ... needs to end and we are looking to be helpful,” he told reporters at the United Nations.