The head of the United Nations condemned violence that took place this weekend at the hands of the security in Venezuela as the United States imposed fresh sanctions on the Maduro regime.
At least four protesters were killed and a further 300 were injured this weekend when security forces attempted to block the entry of U.S. emergency aid across the border from Colombia and Brazil, as Venezuela slides deeper into one of the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises.
“The Secretary-General is following with increasing concern the escalation of tensions in Venezuela,” said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the Secretary-General António Guterres. “He was shocked and saddened to learn that a number of civilians lost their lives in the context of yesterday’s events.”
“[Guterres] appeals for violence to be avoided at any cost and for lethal force not to be used in any circumstances,” the statement continued. “[He also] appeals for calm and urges all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent further escalation.
Nicolás Maduro and his oppressive regime turn the arrival of life-saving aid for Venezuelans into a clash of violence. Read @SecPompeo's statement on letting humanitarian aid into Venezuela: https://t.co/ZmX6AmUEHc #EstamosUnidosVE pic.twitter.com/A1QQxFnFKA
— Department of State (@StateDept) February 24, 2019
Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who now serves the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, criticized the Venezuelan military for their excessive use of force as well as the involvement of various far-left militias.
“The Venezuelan government must stop its forces from using excessive force against unarmed protesters and ordinary citizens,” she said. “People have been shot and killed, others have reportedly received wounds from which they will never completely recover, including losing eyes.”
“The use of proxy forces has a long and sinister history in the region,” she continued. “It is very alarming to see them operating openly in this way in Venezuela.”
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Colombia to meet with the country’s leader Ivan Duque as well as opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. and the majority of other western nations recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate president.
At the meeting, Pence reiterated the administration’s position “all options are on the table” to remove Maduro from power, and called on other regional allies to step up their isolation of the socialist regime.
To President @jguaido of Venezuela, it is a great privilege to share this moment. I bring you and President of Colombia @IvanDuque a very simple message from @POTUS Trump & the United States of America: We are with you 100%. pic.twitter.com/iEaTyDvB7i
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 25, 2019
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department announced fresh sanctions against senior Maduro allies who were involved in blocking the entry of humanitarian aid as well as other high-ranking military personnel. Last month, Washington imposed major sanctions against the socialist regime by blocking the purchase of Venezuelan oil by American companies and freezing all the assets of the state-owned company Petroleum of Venezuela (PDSVA) in the United States.
Such measures have already been backed by Germany, whose Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr indicated on Monday are “in favor of sanctions targeting Maduro and people immediately close to him specifically and that do not make the lives of Venezuelan citizens worse.”