April 15, 2019 / 2:33 PM / 4 months ago

Canada expands sanctions, adds 43 people close to Venezuela's Maduro

FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's interim president, gestures while speaking to supporters at a gathering in Caracas, Venezuela March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada expanded sanctions against the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro on Monday, according to a statement from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, targeting an additional 43 people close to the disputed leader.

While the statement did not give names, it said they were “high ranking officials of the Maduro regime, regional governors and/or directly implicated in activities undermining democratic institutions”.

Canada had already sanctioned 70 others.

Freeland will attend a meeting on Monday in Santiago of Lima Group countries, a regional block that supports Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as interim president until a new round of elections can be held.

The latest meeting of the Lima group is being held after more than three million Venezuelans have fled hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages and political crisis.

“The Maduro dictatorship must be held accountable for this crisis and depriving Venezuelans of their most basic rights and needs,” Freeland said in a statement. “Canada is committed to supporting the peaceful restoration of constitutional democracy in Venezuela.”

Although most Western nations, including the United States, have recognised Guaido as interim head of state, Russia, China and Cuba have stood by Maduro.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Phil Berlowitz

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