Switzerland slaps sanctions on top Venezuela officials

Switzerland slaps sanctions on top Venezuela officials
Venezuelan opposition supporters in front of UN headquarters in Caracas on March 12th. Photo: AFP
Bern has imposed sanctions on seven senior Venezuelan officials, banning them from entering the country or passing through it, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said on Wednesday.

And their Swiss bank accounts have also been frozen, the SECO statement said of measures which were approved by the Swiss Federal Council, or government, and which take effect immediately.

The move follows similar steps by the European Union in January, when the bloc blacklisted seven senior officials in President Nicolas Maduro's administration, freezing their assets and imposing a travel ban in response to human rights violations. 

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The EU has voiced serious concerns about rights abuses in Venezuela, where protests against Maduro turned violent and economic collapse has led to dire shortages of food and medicine.

Among those hit by the Swiss sanctions are Diosdado Cabello, one of the most powerful figures in the Venezuela leadership, Supreme Court president Maikel Moreno and Interior Minister Nestor Riverol.

The government also slapped an embargo on military equipment and items likely to be used for repressive ends as well technology and software which could be used for surveillance or the interception of telecommunications or the internet.

It said it was “gravely concerned by the repeated violations of individual freedoms in Venezuela where the principle of separation of powers had been severely undermined and where preparation for the upcoming elections was suffering from a grave lack of legitimacy.”