European leaders on Monday called for a new presidential election in Venezuela, saying they will “swiftly” levy a new round of sanctions targeting those close to President Nicolas Maduro. Despite widespread calls for a return to democratic rule, Venezuela’s election showed the country was further straying from constitutional order, the European Union’s foreign ministers said. The threat from the EU’s foreign ministers drew backlash from Maduro, who said that and any more sanctions will only further hurt Venezuelans. “This is the European Union that arrogantly wants to put its nose in Venezuela’s business,” Maduro said. “Enough of this old colonialism.”
Maduro won a second, six-year term May 20, which his closest challenger called illegitimate and Venezuela’s leading opposition parties boycotted as fraudulent.
The United States and a dozen neighboring Latin American countries also rejected the vote, accusing Maduro’s government of banning leading opposition parties from participating and using mass bribery to lure votes from the poor.
Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries, sitting atop the world’s largest oil reserves. Mismanagement and a recent drop in global oil prices have left it in a deepening economic and political crisis, marked by shortages of food and medicine and mass migration.