Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations: SOR/2019-263
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 153, Number 14
SOR/2019-263 June 25, 2019
SPECIAL ECONOMIC MEASURES ACT
P.C. 2019-953 June 22, 2019
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, pursuant to subsections 4(1) footnote a, (1.1)footnote a, (2) and (3) of the Special Economic Measures Act footnote b, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations.
Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations
1 Item 57 of the Schedule to the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations footnote 1 is repealed.
Application Prior to Publication
2 For the purpose of paragraph 11(2)(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act, these Regulations apply before they are published in the Canada Gazette.
Coming into Force
3 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Canadian sanctions imposed on Venezuela, which target the Maduro regime, seek to encourage behavioural change towards the restoration of democracy in Venezuela, and are not intended to be permanent. Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera was sanctioned on April 15, 2019, as a government official, because he led the Maduro regime’s intelligence service. He has since participated in the failed military uprising of April 30, 2019, which aimed to restore democracy in Venezuela.
The dismantling of Venezuela’s democracy accelerated in 2017 and 2018 under the administration of President Nicolas Maduro as he sought to consolidate power by gaining control of Venezuela’s institutions. The Maduro regime co-opted the judiciary and the National Electoral Council, and in the summer of 2017, established the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), which has stripped the democratically elected, opposition-led National Assembly of its legislative powers.
On January 10, 2019, Mr. Maduro swore himself in for a second term based on the illegitimate and anti-democratic elections of May 2018. The legitimacy of his claim to the presidency from this date forward was rejected not only by Canada and the international community, but by Venezuela’s democratically elected National Assembly.
On January 15, 2019, a united democratic opposition passed an agreement at the National Assembly declaring the usurpation of power by Maduro. On January 23, 2019, Juan Guaidó assumed the interim presidency of Venezuela, based on article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution which, in the case of vacancy of the office of the presidency, designates the leader of the National Assembly as interim President and requires a call for new presidential elections. More than 50 countries, including Canada, most of its Lima Group partners, Australia, Ecuador, Japan, and most European Union member states, as well as the United States, have recognized Guaidó as the Interim President of Venezuela. Since assuming the interim presidency, Guaidó has been leading demonstrations calling Maduro to end the usurpation of the presidency, and calling the military to respect the Constitution.
In response to the opposition unification behind Guaidó, as well as growing domestic and international pressure, the Maduro regime has increased the repression of anti-regime demonstrators and the persecution of political opponents. The regime has targeted members of the National Assembly with the aim of dismantling it, the only legitimate democratic institution remaining in Venezuela. As of May 21, 2019, 30 Deputies of the National Assembly have been either detained, forced into exile or to take refuge in an Embassy, or seen their parliamentary immunity revoked.
On April 6, 2019, Guaidó began a new round of protests called “Operación Libertad”. Subsequently, on April 30, 2019, Guaidó, supported by military officials, called for a military uprising. While high-ranking military officials allegedly took part in the planning of the failed attempt, only the Head of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, openly supported the uprising. On May 1, 2019, Cristopher Figuera published a letter calling to end corruption, rebuild the country and “find new ways of doing politics,” though notably, he did not explicitly recognize Guaidó as Interim President. Since April 30, 2019, he has also released videos calling on the military, and in particular Padrino Lopez, the Minister of Defense, to rebuild the country and end corruption.
As part of Canada’s foreign policy response to address the situation in Venezuela, Canada has imposed targeted sanctions on individuals linked to the Maduro regime on four occasions. On September 22, 2017, in accordance with the recommendation of the Canada–United States Association Concerning the Situation in Venezuela, Canada adopted the first round of sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) Regulations.
On November 22, 2017, Canada imposed a second round of sanctions on 19 high-ranking Venezuelan officials pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA). Three of the 19 individuals had already been sanctioned under the first SEMA round, including Nicolas Maduro.
On May 30, 2018, following the illegitimate presidential elections of May 20, 2018, Canada announced a third round of sanctions against an additional 14 Venezuelans under SEMA.
On April 15, 2019, Canada announced a fourth round of sanctions on 43 Venezuelans under SEMA, bringing the total number of those sanctioned to 113.
Cristopher Figuera was included in the fourth round of sanctions as Head of SEBIN. Under his direction, SEBIN agents have arbitrarily detained anti-regime demonstrators, persecuted political opponents, and committed torture and extrajudicial killings. The inclusion of Cristopher Figuera in the Schedule of listed persons in the Venezuela Regulations occurred before his participation in the failed uprising of April 30, 2019, which led to the United States decision to remove their own sanctions imposed on him.
Like-minded states’ sanctions
The United States has imposed targeted sanctions on 91 persons from Venezuela since 2015.
On February 15, 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on Cristopher Figuera pursuant to Executive Order 13692 for leading the repression of peaceful demonstrators as Head of SEBIN. However, on May 7, 2019, the United States announced the removal of sanctions imposed on Cristopher Figuera because he “broke ranks with the Maduro regime and rallied to the support of the Venezuelan constitution and the National Assembly.”
In addition to the United States, other Lima Group members have imposed migratory or financial punitive measures. Specifically, on January 17, 2019, Argentina included Cristopher Figuera in their list of enhanced financial scrutiny.
The objective of the Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations (the “Amending Regulations”) is to remove Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera from the Schedule of listed persons in order to
- demonstrate that Canada’s sanctions are not intended to be permanent;
- send a clear message to members of the Maduro regime that Canada is willing to review the list of Venezuelan officials sanctioned as long as they support the return to democracy in Venezuela; and
- show solidarity with the actions of the United States.
The Amending Regulations remove Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera from the Schedule of listed persons in the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations.
Public consultation would not have been appropriate given the urgency of the ongoing situation in Venezuela and the potential adverse effects that could occur from delaying the removal of this individual.
Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation
An initial assessment of the geographical scope of the initiative was conducted and did not identify any modern treaty obligations, as the Amending Regulations will not take effect in a modern treaty area.
A regulatory amendment is the sole method to remove Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera from the Schedule of listed persons.
Costs and benefits
The amendment to remove Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera from the Schedule of listed persons in the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations demonstrates to members of the Maduro regime that Canada will consider delisting other sanctioned Venezuelans as long as they support the return to democracy in Venezuela. The proposed amendment is consistent with actions taken by the United States further to discussions held within the context of the Canada-United States Association Concerning the Situation in Venezuela.
While sanction imposition may entail certain costs to business in lost business opportunities, delisting will not create any additional costs, and will reduce the existing regulatory compliance burden of Canadian banks and financial institutions.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply as there are no associated impacts on small businesses.
The “One-for-One” Rule is not triggered. Administrative burden under the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations is imposed on businesses when they seek a permit to do business with a sanctioned individual. As no permits were requested to do business with Cristopher Figuera during the period when dealings with him were prohibited, there is no administrative burden impact associated with removing him from the Schedule of listed persons in the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
While the Amending Regulations are not related to a work plan or commitment under a formal regulatory cooperation forum, they are being taken to align with actions taken by the United States.
Strategic environmental assessment
In accordance with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.
Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)
Targeted sanctions focus impact on figures believed responsible for key roles in human rights violations, rather than on target countries as a whole. This also results in minimizing collateral effects to those dependent on those figures. Canada has included exemptions in sanctions regulations and issued permits to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to provide some mitigation of the impact of sanctions on vulnerable groups. Sanctions targeting persons are likely to have less impact on Canadian businesses than traditional broad-based economic sanctions on a country and limited impact on the citizens of Venezuela. The removal of targeted sanctions from persons is likely to have a similar impact.
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
As the Amending Regulation removes the name of Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera from the Schedule of listed persons, financial institutions in Canada are no longer required to determine on a continuing basis whether they are in possession or control of property owned, held or controlled by this individual. The consolidated Canadian autonomous sanctions list on the website of Global Affairs Canada has been updated to reflect the delisting. The RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency, the agencies which primarily enforce Canada’s autonomous sanctions, have been notified of the removal of this individual from the Schedule of listed persons.
Venezuela Task Force
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive