Federica Mogherini, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, said in a statement on Tuesday that the death of Navy Captain Rafael Acosta while in custody for alleged participation in a coup plot was a “stark example” of the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.
“The EU is ready to start work towards applying targeted measures for those members of the security forces involved in torture and other serious violations of human rights, ” Mogherini said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mogherini also warned that if no “concrete results” were reached in current talks between the opposition and the government to resolve the political crisis, the EU would be ready to expand its measures.
Members of the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition representatives are holding talks in Barbados in an attempt to break the political stalemate.
Venezuela’s foreign minister said the government “rejected” Mogherini’s statement, adding that she should stay away from the ongoing negotiations.
“Federica Mogherini [is] once more meddling in [our] internal affairs,” Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter.
“She is proffering unacceptable treats, at a time when [understanding] is vital for the dialogue between the people in Venezuela.”
Carlos Pina, a Venezuelan analyst, said the EU was assuming a leading role in the efforts by the international community to resolve the crisis.
“The EU is positioning itself as an influential and decisive actor,” he told Al Jazeera from Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
“Meanwhile, the United States and the Lima Group [regional bloc] remain on the lookout for what can happen at the dialogue table,” he added.
“President Maduro should know that this time the international pressure for the country to host elections will be greater than in previous negotiations.”
In her statement, Mogherini also reaffirmed the need for an “urgent” political solution, adding that new elections were the only way out for the ongoing unrest.
Government officials and a team representing Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly, have met three times already – twice in Oslo and once in Barbados.
The current talks are an extension of the first round of talks in the Norwegian capital in May.
Pina said that there has been “some progress” towards “the consolidation of an electoral timetable”.
He added, however, that “there is still no agreement in some [issues], such as the exit or not of Maduro from power, the electoral conditions [required before elections take place], and the elimination of sanctions from the US in Venezuela.”
Venezuela has been in a deep recession for five years. Shortages of food and medicine are frequent, and public services are progressively failing.
Around a quarter of Venezuela’s 30-million-strong population requires aid, according to the United Nations. Three million people have left the country since the start of 2016.